back to article London cops' tech slammed for failing abused kids – report

A broken police information system hampered efforts to protect children at risk of sexual exploitation in the UK, according to Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabularies (HMIC). Published today, the watchdog's the 113-page report [PDF] details an HMIC inspection into national child protection. It reveals how London's …

  1. Marc 25

    Stupid is as Stupid does

    "In one such incident, the report went on to explain, a 13-year-old girl who went missing overnight was assessed as only being at medium risk because she was “streetwise” despite the Met's communications centre receiving a report that the child was “alone and unsafe in a house with three men”.

    Connectivity issues with the Met's IT systems meant this information was “in an email inbox in the MPS for 14 hours before the force acted on it.”"

    Why the hell was that report EMAILED to the MET, why wasn't someone on the damn phone getting hold of a bobby or private dick (sic).

  2. Hollerithevo

    No child is 'streetwise'

    What does 'streetwise' mean in the context of a child? That they live in such dangerous circumstances that they have learned to be wary and to protect themselves? That they have had to develop 'attitude'? How does being 'streetwise' help a 13 year in a house with three men? Is she supposed to smart-aleck herself out of abuse? Know a bus shelter she can huddle in? Or does 'streetwise' mean 'black'?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No child is 'streetwise'

      > How does being 'streetwise' help a 13 year in a house with three men?

      I see you have not lived in what we call the developing world, because otherwise you would have a pretty good idea of what "streetwise" means in this context.

      Meant as a general comment. I have no idea about the particular instance to which you refer.

    2. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: No child is 'streetwise'

      What does 'streetwise' mean in the context of a child?
      According to my older son who works to help such people, it means they live on the streets. Usually it's to get away from abusive parents and most have a drug habit. Most make the money they need by selling their bodies for sex. It's not a pleasant life.

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: No child is 'streetwise'

        I would have thought streetwise would have been an indicator that maybe these are the more vulnerable kids.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No child is 'streetwise'

        > According to my older son who works to help such people

        Kudos to your son. I have some familiarity with the scene, having worked in a past life in the emergency services, and your son's job is definitely not something that anybody could do.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No child is 'streetwise'

          > is definitely not something that anybody could do.

          Note to self: do not write English while holding a phone conversation in French. That was meant to read "is definitely not something that everyone would be capable of doing", but I can see I was probably thinking "[ça] n'est pas quelque chose que n'importe qui pourrait faire".

          Side note: it appears that it is always the language being spoken that prevails over the one being written.

    3. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: No child is 'streetwise'

      There are a number of children who are well versed in gang culture. There are a number of children who are homeless. There are a number of children from otherwise stable families who are engaged in petty crime. There are a number of children from otherwise stable families who are engaged in anti social behaviour.

      Many of these are well trained and knowledgeable about their environment; where to sleep rough, how to get drugs, how to fence goods, how to turn a trick, how to make a successful false allegation or just how to lie convincingly.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No child is 'streetwise'

        Well "living in a house with three men", her two older brothers and Dad? Not a source of worry in most families. Or do they mean a house split into flats, or do they mean she was being passed around as a sex toy? It's easy to make statements which invite certain interpretations.

        To me streetwise means knowing enough to stay out of trouble.... It doesn't necessarily mean that the person concerned has had to have bad experiences to become streetwise. On the other hand it's not an excuse for the old Bill not to bother either.

        1. Jeffrey Nonken

          Re: No child is 'streetwise'

          "Well "living in a house with three men", her two older brothers and Dad?"

          Didn't say "living in a house with". Said "alone and unsafe with".

          As for your hypothetical dad and two brothers, abusers are usually family members, so dad and two brothers doesn't automatically make one safe. Doesn't automatically make one unsafe either, but if you're going to ignore context, hey, you can twist it any way you like.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hopefully the current CRIS is not related to the "C really is S**t" system I seem to remember colleagues working on in the 1980s.

  4. The_Idiot

    And once again...

    ... we see (or at least, it looks like to me) that while the TLAs and police forces make their cases for having even more data,and more, and more and, well, _more_ - they can't necessarily make the best use of what they already have. Without in any way intending to be facetious or to minimise the real prices that can be paid by those at risk, whether it's needles in haystacks, or a thirteen year old girl in a house with three men there's bugger all point in having the data if the right people don't find it and act on it in a timely fashion? Or if they aren't _able_ to, because of limitation in the systems? Well, adding more bloody data isn't going to help!

    I know. I'm ranting. And blethering. But while the right data _can_ be a good thing? sometimes it's all too easy to have too much of it - and that's apart from when it doesn't not get to the right people, or isn't assessed appropriately when it does. And if it doesn't get assessed properly - maybe the 'right' people are the ones who shouldn't be let any bloody where near it..

    I think I'd better shut up now. Nurse! The red pill! Sigh...

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: And once again...

      Not so much of an Idiot, if I were able I would have upvoted you twice.

      From the article " the cops failed to reflect the intelligence their systems held " kind of says it all really!

      I wonder how well they would do organising a party in a brewery?

      I hope the 13 year old girl was OK and any others like her, perhaps including 'Street wisdom' in the school curriculum may be better than relying on the police for protection because it doesn't look as though they are going to get a grip anytime soon.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: And once again...


      You are spot on.

      How many of get so many emails, alerts and notifications, we just simply ignore them until either someone screams or the system collapses and you go back and go "Oh yeah"?

      Information Overload.

      It's a thing.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On systems and responsibility

    I have no information about the case at hand so I'm not commenting on it specifically, but it gives me the opportunity to mention that something I've noticed working for companies big and small in various roles and industries is that the more regulated a system you have, the less sense of responsibility any one individual has for the tasks at hand. And in my experience, systems that are over-reliant on IT tend to exacerbate this behaviour.

    Again, not a comment about the case being discussed, and not a criticism of IT (I do develop IT solutions myself. Emphasis on "solutions"), just an observation.

  6. Teiwaz Silver badge

    If an old adage fits...

    A poor workman blames his tools.

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: If an old adage fits...

      Who specifies and buys the tools in this case? Not the Police but a Home Office department. Run until recently by Theresa May. Who is best buddies with Tom Winsor and married to a private security contractor. Draw your own conclusions, but this report won't be without political background.

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    "streetwise" "“alone and unsafe in a house with three men”."

    WTF do they think she is?

    Mindy McCready?

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: "streetwise" "“alone and unsafe in a house with three men”."

      The article doesn't explain what "medium" risk means. It means she needs to be found urgently but not at all costs because there is no imminent risk to life.

      Going to high risk would divert every officer who can be spared - so ongoing investigations would stop. The helicopter would be out. They'd engage RIPA to find her phone. That's a very expensive and intrusive operation. So the Police are caught - do it and get castigated for arresting children, invading their privacy and failing to meet their targets on reducing crime or don't do it and get caught out 0.1% of the time.

      I don't know this case but there are also a lot of attention seeking little shits who know that if they go missing then they'll get a helicopter and a free ride home, and so they go missing a lot. Those repeat offenders who cry wolf twice a week will get downgraded, but that doesn't mean that there will never be a wolf.

  8. Captain Badmouth

    Take a bow..

    Enid Blyton.

    Never was a generic term for a member of an organisation so richly deserved.

    ( for our friends across the pond : PC PLOD.)

    Icon : It wouldn't have taken this guy to sort it out.

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