Tusla preparing to prosecute Hyde & Seek chain of creches

Officials reviewing and editing hours of footage supplied to them by RTÉ Investigates

A Hyde & Seek spokes said the company took immediate steps to address the issues raised in the RTÉ Investigates  programme. File photograph: Collins

A Hyde & Seek spokes said the company took immediate steps to address the issues raised in the RTÉ Investigates programme. File photograph: Collins

 

Tusla is preparing a criminal prosecution against the Hyde & Seek chain of creches after an undercover investigation revealed a pattern of disturbing behaviour and practices.

Officials are reviewing and editing hours of footage supplied to them by RTÉ Investigates ahead of making a final decision on whether to bring charges at the District Court level.

The resulting programme, which aired last July, detailed instances of poor staff training and knowledge, children being fed poor-quality food and babies being restrained in high chairs for lengthy periods, causing them distress.

Hyde & Seek’s majority owner, Anne Davy, is also caught on camera shouting at very young children and flipping toddlers on to their stomachs in their cots. She also instructs staff not to make eye contact with the children.

Tusla does not comment on any regulatory enforcement or prosecutorial actions it is taking, as it may prejudice such cases

The footage will form a significant part of the evidence against the chain if charges are brought, according to informed sources. A final decision is expected shortly.

Childcare legislation

The exact nature of the charges being considered has not been finalised. But sources say they will be brought under childcare legislation and regulations which grant Tusla wide-ranging powers to prosecute pre-school services for fire safely issues and breaches of adult-to-child ratios, both of which were documented by RTÉ.

The agency declined to confirm pending charges on Monday. “Tusla does not comment on any regulatory enforcement or prosecutorial actions it is taking, as it may prejudice such cases,” said a spokesman.

A Hyde & Seek spokesman also declined to comment, except to say it took immediate steps to address the issues raised in the programme. “We will continue to keep parents informed directly of this process.”