A London Assembly Member has slammed the Met Police yesterday (2nd November) during a plenary session with the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service Sir Mark Rowley QPM.
Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member and Police and Crime Spokesperson criticised the Met for its failure to address concerns around Child Protection and the safeguarding of children.
Last month, His Majesty’s Inspectorate (HMI) published two ‘Accelerated Causes of Concern’ from their ongoing inspection into the Met’s handling of child sexual and criminal exploitation. HMI only issues these notices when it discovers significant service failures or risks to public safety.
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The report found that the Met is failing to identify and assess risks appropriately, and to respond adequately, when children are reported missing and effectively investigate when children are at risk of, or harmed by, criminal or sexual exploitation.
The Inspectorate was also particularly concerned about the frequent use of victim-blaming language and the potential impact this lack of understanding can have on police investigations more widely, leaving vulnerable children unprotected.
The Met had been heavily criticised in 2016 by HMI over its failures relating to child protection where the Chief Inspector said the report was “the most critical it had ever published” and that “There is no place in civilised society for the police to neglect their duty towards children in this way, and it is deeply troubling that it has been happening to such a significant extent in the largest force in the country.”
The 2016 HMI inspection report was followed up by 4 Quarterly Updates in 2017, a Review in 2018 and another Assessment in 2021.
During the Assembly session, Caroline Pidgeon AM highlighted that during her 16 years on the London Assembly, she has been repeatedly raising concerns around safeguarding children, but yet the Met has failed to get to grips with tackling the issue.
In response to the questioning, the Mayor and Commissioner stated that the major challenge in addressing the concerns was around resourcing.
Caroline Pidgeon AM said, “Back in 2016, the initial report highlighted the Met’s Response to missing children as appalling, with 36/38 cases they reviewed requiring improvement or being inadequate. Whilst some improvements were noted by 2021, HMI still felt that the Met’s response did not match the identified risks to the safety of children.
“And now in the latest notice, HMI once again has flagged issues around missing children, as well as children at risk of sexual exploitation.
“How is it that after all the efforts since 2016, with new leadership in place, concerns are so severe that HMI felt the need to raise these issues yet again as Accelerated Causes of Concern?
“We need to see immediate improvements made to protect children across London. We cannot be in a situation where another 16 years go by with little to no progress and another generation of children have been failed.”