Metropolitan Police sex abuse case 'failings put children at risk'

Metropolitan Police sex abuse case 'failings put children at risk'

Children in London are being put at risk because of "serious failings" in the way the Met Police deals with child sexual abuse, inspectors have found.

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found 75% of cases investigated by the force were dealt with "inadequately" or "required improvement".

It said there was an "indefensible" lack of leadership in child protection, with no single officer in charge.

The Met said children were a "priority" and it was "sorry" for any failures.

But, force assistant commissioner Martin Hewitt said child protection "often involves complex social problems which cannot be solved by police alone".


HMIC inspectors discovered that 277 of 384 cases investigated had been poorly handled.

Of those, 38 were referred back to the Met because inspectors believed the children involved may still be at risk.

Metropolitan Police sex abuse case 'failings put children at risk'

HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said "far too many of the cases we looked at fell well short of expected standards".

The force was found to be the only one investigated not to have a chief officer in charge of child protection, in spite of it being the largest police service in the country.

Information about victims and offenders was kept on "isolated" IT systems and not shared between boroughs, while some staff - including borough child sexual exploitation officers - had been given no training in child sexual exploitation.

Officers were also too focused on tackling crimes such as burglary, criminal damage, theft and violence, inspectors found.

As a result, child protection investigations were "inconsistent" and caused issues such as a backlog of visits to registered sex offenders who were thought to be a very high risk to children.

Metropolitan Police sex abuse case 'failings put children at risk'

In a statement, the Met said it already had "more than 1,300 officers" who were "dedicated to protecting vulnerable young people".

It said it had re-examined the cases highlighted by HMIC and had identified "no further harm to children and no further offenders".

With regards to accusations it had focussed too much on other areas of policing, the force said "children are disproportionately victims" in those crimes.

However, it said it had "worked closely" with HMIC since the inspection and would use the report as "a launch pad" to change its approach to child protection.

Metropolitan Police sex abuse case 'failings put children at risk'

HMIC has made several recommendations, including a London-wide oversight of child protection.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said the report was "deeply troubling" and has set out a plan to improve the service, including "a new independent group of child protection experts".

"Our new scrutiny group will ensure that improvements are made... to help safeguard our most vulnerable Londoners," he said.

Inspectors will carry out another inspection of the force to check on improvements within 12 months.



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