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How do the Police Investigate Child Abuse Allegations?

September 25, 2019 2:32 pm


How do the police investigate child abuse allegations

More allegations of child abuse are now hitting the headlines. When concerns are reported, the police will conduct a thorough investigation.

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In 2016 and 2017, 66,128 contacts were made to the NSPCC helpline, and those regarding abuse have increased by 56 per cent in the last five years. To reduce the ongoing risk, all organisations that work with children must have an appropriate safeguarding policy and carry out checks, including basic DBS checks, on employees and visitors.

The investigation

The police can do a number of things to look into the allegations, including speaking to schools, local authorities and health services. They are able to speak to the child and don’t require parental permission, and they can visit the location of the offence and search for evidence.

The team can arrange for the child to undergo a medical examination. When they believe there is the risk of immediate significant harm, they can put the child into police protection for a maximum of 72 hours. Another option is to speak to witnesses to gather statements.

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Carrying out a medical examination

A medical examination may be required if needed for the safety, welfare and immediate medical needs of the child. Parental permission is needed for very young children. For older children, the doctor needs to be convinced they are capable of providing their own consent. In some circumstances when a parent doesn’t give their permission, social workers can request a court order.

The exam will be conducted by a specialist paediatrician, who will have undergone a basic DBS check. Social workers, police and parents can attend. Records of the injuries will be made and photographs will be taken when necessary.

Witness statements

Any witnesses to the abuse may be required to make a statement, which can be written or recorded. When it is a child who is being interviewed, this can be attended by a social worker. Those with specialist training can carry it out.


When all the information has been collected, the police must consider whether a prosecution is viable. If they believe there is sufficient evidence, they will pass the case to CPS, who must be convinced there is a realistic prospect of securing a conviction and that it’s in the public interest to prosecute.

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