Police in Greater Manchester are facing renewed criticism over their handling of child abuse cases.
A new report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) accuses the force of significant delays in the investigation of child protection cases and unnecessarily holding children in custody overnight.
It says that police officers were overlooking the plight of children in domestic abuse cases and that there was an inconsistent approach to child sexual exploitation across the force.
The reports follows an inspection in July 2014 and highlights a number of specific examples where the police response was inadequate, including:
:: Children whose welfare was not considered after they had witnessed their mother being strangled by an offender until she was unconscious.
:: Deficient records kept of children who were held in custody.
:: A three-month delay in interviewing a man suspected of raping his nine year old grandson.
:: Seven months to analyse the phone of an alleged offender said to have recorded the rape of two 14-year-old girls.
HMIC inspectors did acknowledge a series of improvements and they praised officers working on child abuse investigations for their dedication.
But they recommended urgent steps including a review of the way the force manages the detention of children.
The report follows severe criticism of the way Greater Manchester Police (GMP) handled child sex trafficking in Rochdale and other towns.
One victim told Sky News that one police officer called her a prostitute after she had complained about being raped by a man.
Former GMP officer Margaret Oliver, who dealt with child sex abuse cases, said the report showed that police had still not learned the lessons of the past.
She resigned from the force accusing it of failing to support victims.
“We have to learn from the mistakes in order to encourage more victims to come forward,” she said.
“They (GMP) have to look at the way previous victims and witnesses have been treated and feel secure and confident that if they put their trust in those agencies that they are going to be believed, looked after, supported and not abandoned once its been to trial.”
Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd said: “The report highlights the good work and clear progress that has been made by Greater Manchester Police with regards to child protection.
“There is always room for improvement, however, and I shall be discussing the report’s recommendations with the Chief Constable to ensure that GMP delivers those improvements and focuses on what is necessary to ensure the safety of children in Greater Manchester.”