Child Abuse Investigations
The BBC have reported on a newly published report by the Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) which accuses the Police in England and Wales of failing to carry out effective investigations into allegations of child abuse and neglect. The report focuses on in excess of 500 cases across eight forces where there was an ‘inadequate’ response in 220 cases.
Peter Garsden, child abuse lawyer and president of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers, speaking on today’s lunch time news, was asked if he was surprised by the findings of the report. Commenting Mr Garsden said: “It doesn’t surprise me at all. In the last three or five years since the jimmy Saville abuse scandal broke the police have been swamped with enquiries. Whereas abuse complaints may have previously been a low priority for the police I believe that now they are a much higher priority but there is a lack of resources.
The National Police Chiefs Council acknowledge that forces had to “fundamentally change” their approach.
Further asked whether the reported failings were a training issue or a change of culture that it is needed, Peter Garsden replied: “There is a huge training requirement. With such a huge influx of complaints, it’s a big ask in this time of austerity and government cut backs. Police don’t have the resources to deal with the number of complaints which is a hangover from a previous era when investigating claims of child abuse was a lower priority. It’s a sad indictment of the needs of vulnerable and damaged individuals in our society.
The HMIC said it was “surprised” to find that some officers accused children of crimes rather than treating them as potential victims. Asked whether it makes a difference to a victim if their case is handled badly, Peter Garsden said: “It makes a huge huge difference. Children who have already been abused by someone in a position of authority can get angry. It damages them enormously. We deal with the fall out when clients are not dealt with properly”.