...By Henry George for TDPel Media.
A new report from the London Assembly’s police and crime committee has warned that some parents are reluctant to report their missing children to the Metropolitan Police due to low trust and confidence in the force.
The committee’s investigation found that families and carers who do report a missing child to the Met sometimes receive inaccurate information from call handlers.
Inconsistent assessments and responses to missing children across the Met’s Basic Command Units and a disjointed response when a child goes missing across police service boundaries were also identified as issues.
In 2022-23, 9,370 children went missing in London, resulting in 29,455 separate missing incidents being recorded by the Met.
The committee made 17 recommendations to the Met Police and to Mayor Sadiq Khan, including a review of the experiences of parents, carers and staff in reporting children missing in London.
The report also suggested that the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) should conduct the review and use it to shape a joint MOPAC-Met strategy to improve the process for reporting missing children.
The Met’s Public Protection Commander, Kevin Southworth, stated that investigating missing children “is treated with the utmost seriousness”, and that the report and its recommendations would inform the Met’s approach to missing persons going forward.
The report highlights issues in the way missing children are reported and responded to in London, and the impact this can have on families and carers.
The recommendations put forward by the committee aim to address these issues, and promote a joint approach between the Met and MOPAC to improve the process for reporting missing children.
The figures provided in the report regarding the number of missing children in London are concerning, and the fact that many incidents are not reported to the police suggests that the true figure is likely to be much higher.
The response from Mr Khan and the Met highlights a commitment to improving the situation, including investing in a new Leadership Academy and providing funds to improve the service for Londoners who call the police.
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