Britain’s biggest police force stands accused of placing children at risk of sexual abuse because of failings in the way it deals with cases.
According to shocking figures released by inspectors from the HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, three quarters of cases weren’t dealt with properly. Inspectors said there was a lack of leadership in child protection which was “indefensible”. Because no single officer was in charge, it said this could leave children at risk.
The Met has quickly moved to apologise for any failings. However, the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd has said she is profoundly concerned about the report’s findings.
Meanwhile, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “This deeply troubling report has found that, too often, children in our city have been let down when they are most in need.”
In a statement, the Met’s assistant commissioner, Martin Hewitt, said the safety of youngsters was a priority but added that child protection “often involves complex social problems which cannot be solved by police alone”.
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) inspectors said that 277 of 384 cases investigated had been handled in a way which was either inadequate, or required improvement. Out of those, a total of 38 ended up being referred back to the police because inspectors believed the children who were involved may still be at risk of sexual abuse as a result of the situation they have been left in.
Some of the shocking failings included a teenage girl who said she had been sexually assaulted after being groomed online. However, it took more than two weeks for anyone to be assigned to investigate, during which time the man continued to contact her. Meanwhile, a 13-year-old girl’s family became concerned after seeing Facebook posts which suggested she was the victim of sexual exploitation from older men. However, the Met did not investigate at all.
Inpectors will carry out a further inspection, with the hope that the service has improved, within the next year.