Police child abuse probes are often poor or delayed, says report by watchdog

A report has criticised the way police investigate child abuse allegations
A report has criticised the way police investigate child abuse allegations
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Only a third of police cases involving vulnerable children are handled to a good standard, inspectors from a Government watchdog have found.

Of the 576 cases involving vulnerable children across eight forces, including West Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Police, 177 were found to have been dealt with to a good standard, 220 were viewed as inadequate and 179 were deemed as adequate.

The cases, which Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary examined as part of the National Child Protection Inspection programme, were said to be part of a system which displays inconsistency and weakness from the first contact of a child with police and through to the investigation.

The findings are from three reports launched by the HMIC, which warns that the police must reassess their approach to child protection or risk failing a new generation. One of the reports was a follow-up to a 2013 inspection into police failings in the way allegations about Leeds-born Jimmy Savile were recorded.

Dru Sharpling, who led the inspections, said: “Children must come first - there can be no compromise when it comes to child protection. Getting it right most of the time can never be the explanation for failures that have devastating consequences for the child, carers and families.”

She noted that the quality of risk assessments - the fundamental building blocks of child protection practice - is patchy.

On “too many occasions” investigations into child abuse or neglect were poor or delayed. Responses to reports of offences against children, ranging from online grooming to domestic abuse, were deemed inadequate.

Former police commissioner Shaun Wright will not face investigation over his knowledge of the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal, it has emerged. The Independent Police Complaints Commission has ruled there is ‘no evidence’ to suggest Mr Wright may have committed any criminal act after three complaints were made about him.