25 Oct 2013

National accuses Labour of blundering over abuse case

9:53 pm on 25 October 2013

National is accusing Labour of blundering into the case of a man accused of sexually abusing a girl and likely making things worse.

Northland man James Sanders, 65, has been charged with sexual violation and indecent assault of a primary school girl at an Out of School Care and Recreation programme, known as the Oscar programme.

Labour Party social development spokesperson Sue Moroney says the arrest of the man for alleged child-sex offending raises questions about staffing levels at after school care programmes.

Ms Moroney says parents need to know their children are safe when they are in government subsidised care and Social Development Minister Paula Bennett must urgently review the programme's procedures.

She says in 2011 the Government dropped a requirement for two staff to be in each programme, which was a good double check of making sure good supervision is in place.

"At the time, Labour warned them that that was a very risky proposition."

Ms Moroney says Mrs Bennett has been writing green and white papers about vulnerable children, while getting rid of important child protection measures.

But Paula Bennett says while the Oscar programme in question does have an exemption to have a single supervisor, James Sanders is not that approved supervisor.

"The supervisor that was there, we'll have to make sure as we go through the investigation, had been checked. So actually there's other things to come out in this case that requires us with level heads to let the proper authorities go through that before we jump to conclusions."

Northland police say they are speaking to a number of children who attended the out of school programme and Mr Sanders may face further charges when he appears in court in Kaitaia next Wednesday.