Despite the stinging criticisms in the Victoria Climbie Inquiry
Report, and the self-audit which followed its publication, child
protection is still not given sufficient status or priority in many
Officers in child abuse investigation units are too often
inadequately trained and supported, struggling with a lack of staff
and resources. Often, procedures are not understood, and there is
still a tendency to leave investigations to social services when it
is clear a crime may have been committed.
In other words, some of the defects brought to light by Victoria
Climbie’s terrible murder are still there. Change is
non-negotiable, but we must recognise it is cultural change of a
magnitude which none of the other child protection agencies face.
There are signs of progress: the “cardigan brigade” stereotypes are
disappearing with better understanding of the work of investigation
units among forces as a whole. And police participation in area
child protection committees has improved too.
Often, where change is most urgently needed – for example, in
ending the accommodation of children at police stations – the
police need the co-operation of partner agencies. Social services
must take action. The child protection system as a whole stands or
falls on the performance of each agency involved.