Met Criticised Over Child Abuse Staff Shortages
Thursday 24th July 2014
The Metropolitan Police Force is being criticised for not having enough staff to deal with a rise in claims of child abuse.
A report by the London Assembly has found dozens of positions in Scotland Yard's sex crime unit are vacant.
The number of alleged child rapes and sexual assaults has risen by a third in London in the past five years. The number of cases rose by 10% last year.
The report has predicted that the number of referrals made to the Met could increase to 2,000 or 3,000 because of raised awareness. It is currently in the hundreds.
Caroline Pigeon from the London Assembly's Police and Crime Committee had told LBC the low staffing levels are bad for both victims and officers.
"With the volume coming in you're going to see officers who work in the child abuse command having to take on more and more cases, which is just not healthy.
"We need to make sure that every case, whether it is historic one from many years ago or something that happened yesterday, it needs to be fully investigated and the victims need to have a high quality service."
The number of roles in the unit went up by a fifth, the report found, however the London Assembly says that does not reflect the unfulfilled posts.
More than 50 jobs were vacant in September last year and 150 officers have been given other duties such as working on Operation Yewtree, which came out of the revelation of abuse by Jimmy Saville.
Another problem was a lack of maternity cover provided for "a large proportion" of women going off on leave.
The Met has replied saying that some officers working for the teams were not included in the report's numbers although it did admit there was massive pressure on those working in this area.
It also said officers from other areas would be brought in to plug gaps.
"There are more than 1,130 staff working in the Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command, and in the face of increased demand 50 detectives have been transferred permanently to the unit from Homicide and Major Crime, and more than 40 officers moved temporarily from other areas."