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'Huge proportion' of frontline training in Met is now on child protection


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Force has been repeatedly criticised by inspectorate but says it is trying to improve.

Comm Richard Smith

Comm Richard Smith

Half the Met Police's frontline training days this year have been to improve its child protection response, according to the senior officer leading on the issues.

A damning report from HMIC last year said the UK's largest constabulary isleaving minors at risk due to the poor quality of work on the area.

A follow-up inspection released by the inspectorate recently found significant weaknesses persist.

Commander Richard Smith, who is now in charge of the area, told the London Assembly: "We have dedicated 50 per cent of our professional development days for our frontline training to child protection this year.

"Committee members may think – 'Only 50 per cent after such a damning report?' but when we look at the broad spread of delivery in the Met that is a huge proportion of what frontline training the Met has, and it won't stop."

He said there have been courses created, as well as an attempt to "shift the culture" through an internal comms campaign so that everyone thinks child protection is their responsibility.

But crucially, he added: "Where we haven't completed the shift that we really wanted - in the final outcomes for children.

"In London [it is] still showing substantial offences, and that's what our current focus will be on."

HMICFRS' latest follow-up inspection found high workloads were a big part of the problem for the force.

Detective Superintendent Stephen Chandler told the London Assembly that each dedicated sergeant is supervising six or seven detective constables with 10-14 ongoing complex cases in the area.

He said: "That's not an excuse, that's a reality on the frontline at the moment and it has been since [at least] 2014."

He said some 30 per cent of specialist detectives in the field are extracted to other areas of police business.

Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon told the officers that she'd received a complaint from Redbridge Council – a local authority within one of the force's merged borough pilots - that no one had got in touch with them about child protection arrangements until two months after the merger took place.

Comm Smith said that if more boroughs merge that will happen at an earlier stage of the process.

Insiders in the force believe that more mergers are extremely likely.

View On Police Oracle

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