Welcome to another week.
A damning report released on 24th November by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), has claimed that the Metropolitan Police’s handling of child protection cases is for the most part substandard. Of the 135 cases investigated, 90% were found to have been dealt with poorly.
The report looked at cases involving domestic abuse, police powers to protect children, sex offender management, missing children, child sexual exploitation (CSE), as well as the detention of children in police custody.
Whilst some improvements were noted, the overall picture was not encouraging, with one of the most concerning cases involving a missing 15-year-old girl, who was later found at the address of a registered sex offender.
The report follows an initial investigation by HMICFRS around the same time last year, which also highlighted serious and widespread failings by Britain’s largest police force.
The Met has blamed deep budget cuts for the ongoing problems, however the latest report suggests that there is more to the failings:
Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, Matt Parr:
“Building on the previous two reports, inspectors have seen continued improvement to the Met’s governance of child protection, despite the challenges and complexity of policing in London. For this report inspectors assessed the extent this strategic intent to improve had translated into better services to protect children.
“To do this, inspectors reviewed a sample of child protection cases. This found there were still significant weaknesses in the service provided to the children of London. Whilst inspectors recognise the scale of the task the Met faces, and would not necessarily expect to see immediate improvement in all areas, there is still clearly much work to do. The force now needs to take prompt and effective action to translate the strategic commitment into improving the service to children at risk of harm.”
The report itself specifically outlines failures which have nothing to do with budget cuts. These include failures to record communications with social services during missing children episodes and wide inconsistencies in how investigations were approached.
The report also notes that police made inappropriate comments about missing children, for example officers saying “It’s what they always do” – which also highlighted a lack of understanding in relation to additional risks associated with children who repeatedly go missing.
A raft of recommendations, with set time periods in which they should be completed, were made in the first report. The latest report confirms that whilst some recommendations have been picked up within the required time frames, several are yet to be implemented, including a skills audit of officers and staff responsible for conducting safeguarding investigations. This is a hugely important action, which could be a major factor in easing ongoing difficulties in handling child protection cases.
Our question this week then, is just this: what recommendations do you have for the Met in order to improve the way it handles child protection cases?