The Met needs to make immediate improvements on protecting children

In a London Assembly session with the Mayor and the Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley, Caroline Pidgeon criticised the Met for its ongoing failure to address concerns around child protection and safeguarding.

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.

The Met had been heavily criticised in 2016 by HMI over its failures relating to child protection, and the latest report found that the Met is still 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.

During the Assembly session, Caroline Pidgeon 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.

Commenting, Caroline 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.”