Metropolitan Police putting vulnerable children at risk

The Metropolitan Police’s approach to child protection is putting vulnerable children at risk, and it should make urgent improvements, the police inspectorate has found.

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Metropolitan Police – accelerated causes of concern

His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) said the Met is failing to:

  • identify and assess risks appropriately, and to respond adequately, when children are reported missing; and
  • effectively investigate when children are at risk of, or harmed by, criminal or sexual exploitation.

The inspectorate was also particularly concerned about the frequent use of victim-blaming language and the potential impact this lack of understanding can have on police investigations more widely, leaving vulnerable children unprotected.

HMICFRS was commissioned by the Mayor of London to inspect the Met’s handling of child sexual and criminal exploitation.

During this inspection, HMICFRS identified several problems with the Met’s approach to child protection. Because two of these concerns are so serious, the inspectorate has decided to report them now, rather than waiting until the full inspection report is published next year. These are known as accelerated causes of concern*.

HMICFRS has made two recommendations that the Met should ensure it has implemented by 31 December 2023.

His Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary Lee Freeman said:

“The role of the police in protecting children from harm should not be understated. Children who go missing, or are at risk of exploitation, are some of the most vulnerable in society. It is therefore concerning that the Metropolitan Police’s current approach to child protection requires immediate attention.

“Whilst we observed positive examples of good work by committed officers and staff, the force needs to do much more to ensure it responds effectively to missing children, and those subjected to exploitation. The force must make sure that it is focused on the risks to children, and that officers and staff are also equipped to deal with those risks.”

“We have made two recommendations for the Metropolitan Police to address these accelerated concerns, and we will closely monitor the force’s progress.”

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Metropolitan Police – accelerated causes of concern


  • For further information, please contact the HMICFRS Press Office on 0300 071 6781 or email
  • *Accelerated cause of concern: If our inspection identifies a serious or critical shortcoming within a police force, we will report it as a “cause of concern” in the subsequent inspection report. When we discover risks to public safety – as is the case with the Metropolitan Police’s approach to child protection – we report our concerns earlier, before the full inspection report is published. This is called an “accelerated cause of concern”.