His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) in its 51-page report highlights the ineffectiveness of the police force’s response to criminal and sexual exploitation of children. The report additionally suggests nearly a dozen reforms to be implemented in order to improve the situation.
The inspectorate found evidence of some positive work by the Met to protect children, but overall, it concluded that more needs to be done.
The report raises concerns about the Met’s inadequate investigation practices, particularly when children are reported missing or at risk of exploitation. It also highlights the use of victim-blaming language by police officers and staff.
The report stated a case of a 14-year-old girl reported missing by her foster mother and deemed to be at risk of sexual and criminal exploitation by drug dealers.
The HMICFRS review said that efforts to trace her were “limited” and supervisors repeatedly said “her behaviour wasn’t out of character”.
In response to the report, the Met has apologized and pledged to improve its response by increasing police resources and providing better training for officers dealing with child exploitation cases.
“We are putting more police resource into this area and retraining officers to have a better understanding of the complexities of child exploitation,” Met Commander Kevin Southworth said.