‘Se­ri­ous er­rors’ by police leave chil­dren un­pro­tected

Report find­ings re­leased

Ruislip & Eastcote & Northwood Gazette - - News - By Amita Joshi amita.joshi@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

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

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