Met Police has child protection ‘weaknesses’

A group of police officers walking

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The police watchdog has inspected the Met four times since a damning report in 2016

The Metropolitan Police Service still has “significant weaknesses” in the way it deals with cases involving children, a watchdog has found.

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has inspected the force four times since a damning report in November 2016.

The new report found that while the Met has made progress, “consistently good” outcomes for children are not achieved.

The Met said it was “aware of the urgency of improving our services”.

During the latest inspection, HMICFRS rated 191 of a sample of 214 child protection cases as either “requiring improvement” or “inadequate”.

‘Drastic alterations’

At times, cases were found to be compromised due to poor investigations, volume of work and an absence of “robust supervision”.

The report gives one example where it took 11 days for officers to visit a 13-year-old girl who called police after a 12-year-old boy threatened to distribute a half-naked picture of her unless she sent him more images.

Nevertheless, the Met was found to have made a number of improvements since 2016, such as appointing a named officer lead for child protection.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said the Met had made “drastic alterations” and “by and large, the force is moving in the right direction”.

However, he said the force “must maintain its momentum and focus on ensuring the changes it is making are leading to a better service”.

Commander Richard Smith said “progress continues to be made in numerous areas”.

“We are aware of the urgency of improving our services further, but we also know that delivering real and sustainable improvements… will take time to achieve,” he said.

Inspectors said they would re-visit the force during the next 12 months.

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