‘Serious errors’ by police leave children unprotected
Report findings released
METROPOLITAN Police officers investigating child abuse are making “serious errors” and leaving children vulnerable, according to new findings.
A new report said a staggering three quarters of child exploitation cases were not handled adequately or “required improvement”.
The damning findings, released on Friday November 25 by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), also said the force was so busy focusing on the London Mayor’s list of seven priorities, that “fundamental deficiencies” left children at risk.
Matt Parr, who carried out the report, said: “We met many officers and staff in the Met who are dedicated men and women, working hard to prevent children from coming to harm.
“But we found serious errors of judgment, inconsistency, unacceptable delays and a lack of leadership, which meant that children are not being protected properly.
“Far too many of the cases we looked at fell well short of expected standards and meant that victims weren’t protected, evidence was lost and offenders continued to pose a risk to children.”
London’s police force released a statement following the investigation to say they have worked with the HMIC to try and discuss the “complex area of work”.
It read: “Our aim is to provide the best possible protection to children and we are sorry that this has not always been the case, especially to the children involved in the examples highlighted in this report.
“Since the HMIC inspection, we have revisited all the cases they examined.
“We have identified no further harm to children and no further offenders have been charged or cautioned as a result.”
However, in their response to the report, the Met raised that there were a large number of officers dedicated to the issue.
The statement went on to say: “Within the Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command alone there are more than 1,300 officers. In addition to this there are locally based investigators within every London borough.”
Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt said child protection often involves complex social problems which cannot be solved by the police alone.
Mr Hewitt: “We have rethought how we go about our work to protect London’s most vulnerable.
“As this report shows, there is still a lot of work to be done. We have made significant changes already and we are committed to continuing to rise to this challenge.”
Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Thomas Winsor, said: “The Met is a large and complex force but, nevertheless, the importance of the police getting this right and protecting children cannot be overstated.”
Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images