The death of a one-year-old boy at a nursery is being treated as “suspicious” by police, with six women arrested in connection with the incident.
West Midlands Police said a criminal investigation was launched after the toddler’s death on December 9 and a subsequent Ofsted inspection.
Fairytales Day Nursery in Bourne Street, Dudley, was closed by Ofsted, along with other linked premises, on December 14, after the watchdog said “children may be at risk of harm” and suspended its registration.
The police said three women – aged 20, 23 and 50 – were arrested on December 16 on suspicion of gross negligence manslaughter and later bailed.
Three more women – aged 51, 53 and 37 – were detained on Wednesday, two on suspicion of corporate manslaughter and one on suspicion of gross negligence manslaughter.
In a statement, the force said: “We are treating the death of a one-year-old boy on December 9 at a Dudley nursery as suspicious and an investigation is under way.
“The boy’s family is being supported by specially trained officers.
“A post-mortem has taken place but further tests will be conducted to establish the exact cause of death.”
A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokeswoman said two ambulances, a trauma doctor and an air ambulance were sent to premises in Bourne Street at 3.19pm on December 9.
“On arrival crews found a child in a critical condition,” she said.
“Medics commenced advanced life support which continued en route to Russells Hall Hospital (Dudley) by ambulance.”
The boy died despite the efforts of medical personnel.
A previous Ofsted report published in February last year found provision at the multi award-winning nursery to be good overall.
However, inspectors went back on December 15 2022 after Fairytales’ management told the watchdog of “a serious incident involving a child in their care” at the Bourne Street site on December 9.
The provider, which runs two nursery sites, is legally obliged to tell Ofsted if there has been a “serious accident, illness or injury to, or death of, any child while in their care”.
In a report published on December 22, the watchdog said it had suspended the nursery’s registration on December 14, having “received concerns that the provider was not meeting some of the safeguarding and welfare requirements”.
“We suspended the provider’s registration because we believe children may be at risk of harm,” the report said.
Inspectors had by then carried out a visit, on December 15, finding the nursery had failed to tell authorities about a change of manager “which is an offence”, and uncovering welfare shortcomings, particularly in the care of babies in the sleeping room.
Setting out what actions which, by law, needed to be taken at the site by January 13, Ofsted directed the nursery to “ensure at least half the staff who care for babies have received training that specifically addresses the care of babies”.
It must also “demonstrate how you will ensure sleeping babies are frequently checked to ensure that they are safe”, as well as “review and implement sleeping arrangements to ensure children are placed down to sleep safely in line with latest government safety guidance”.
Ofsted said all staff must have the correct “qualifications, training, skills, knowledge, and a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities with regards to sleeping children”.
The nursery must “take all reasonable steps to ensure children in your care are not exposed to risks, paying particular attention to risks in the baby room”.
The provider must also “ensure risk assessment is effective and identifiy aspects of the environment that need to be checked on a regular basis… and how the risk will be removed or minimised”.
Fairytales must also implement its own procedures “to safeguard children in the event of an allegation being made against a member of staff” and make sure workers know the safeguarding policy “so they can recognise and respond in a timely and appropriate way, when inappropriate behaviour is displayed” by other staff members.
An Ofsted spokesperson said: “We don’t comment on individual providers and it would be inappropriate for us to comment on the circumstances surrounding this child’s tragic death while a police investigation is under way.
“However, we suspended this nursery’s registration on December 14 because we believed children may be at risk of harm.
“Inspectors visited the nursery the following day and issued a welfare requirements notice, setting out a range of actions the nursery must take to make sure children are safe.
“We are supporting the police with their ongoing investigation.”