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Met’s Siloed IT Systems Putting Children at Risk – Report

Poorly designed IT systems are contributing to serious failings by police in child exploitation cases, according to Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabularies (HMIC).

The inspectorate’s latest report highlighted problems with the Met’s crime recording information system (CRIS).

It’s intended to provide a handy repository of information for officers on children in London at risk of child sexual exploitation (CSE).

However, police told the inspectors that this information was “not easy to locate” on the system

The report added:

“It is also a complicated system: for instance, the CSE guidance for officers gives them a choice of 12 different flags to use. Furthermore, staff told us that the responsibility for adding flags rests with individual officers, and is neither universally adhered to nor universally understood.”

These problems surrounding the flagging and retrieval of CSE information could contribute to cases being tackled in isolation, leading to intelligence gaps, HMIC warned.

It added:

“The lack of connection between the MPS IT systems, databases and spreadsheets used to record such analyses exacerbates this problem. As a result, much of the information on victims, offenders and risk is kept in isolated pockets across the force. This contrasts sharply with the free movement of people (both victims and offenders) around the capital.”

One example of the Met’s shockingly ineffective and siloed information systems involved key information on a 13-year-old girl at risk of CSE.

Despite receiving a report that the child was at home “alone and unsafe” in a house with three men, the info sat in a Met police inbox for 14 hours before it was acted upon, HMIC claimed.

“At the time of the case audit, the MPS had not formally interviewed the three men she was with while she was missing, which meant that potentially they still posed a risk,” the report added.

It concluded that staff should also be made aware of the importance of conflating all available info from police systems, especially when investigating CSE cases.

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