MOSCOW, September 30 (RIA Novosti) - England's South Yorkshire police are being ridiculed for inconsistencies and "weaknesses" regarding its child protection procedures, The Guardian reported on Tuesday.
"We are concerned that force practice is inconsistent so not all children receive the standard of treatment they deserve," Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) Dru Sharpling was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
"We were also concerned about the lack of understanding of the risk posed by offenders who target vulnerable children, and shortcomings in the protection of children in care," Sharpling added.
HMIC has so far inspected 55 South Yorkshire police cases involving children deemed "at risk" and has found 20 to be inadequate, one poor, 20 good and 14 adequate, according to the newspaper. Police shortcomings include cases where officers failed to report to social care services in the case of two missing 13-year-old girls from their care homes, failure to follow through with child abduction warning notices and choosing to refrain from providing further aid to a family of a vulnerable girl who had reportedly run away from home 40 times.
A previous HMIC report revealed that officers in South Yorkshire police's public protection unit, which deals with rape and serious sexual assault, spent the majority of their time disproving claims of victims rather than leading investigations and establishing protective measures for children at risk.
Assistant chief constable Ingrid Lee has responded to criticism by stating the police "will ensure that it is dealt with properly and robustly," adding that changes are being made to the system, including a central referral unit for children, multi-agency teams in every district, polygraph tests for known sex offenders and increased public awareness about child sex offenders and domestic abuse.
A report released earlier this year by Professor Alexis Jay shed light on the South Yorkshire Police child protection unit's failures, revealing that officers failed to protect some 1,400 children abused in Rotherham over a span of 16 years. The report also claimed officers regarded "many child victims with contempt." South Yorkshire's police and crime commissioner Shaun Wright resigned as a result of the professor's startling discoveries.