A family court judge has criticised “serious and systemic flaws” in how West Yorkshire police and Wakefield council handled a case in which a girl and her mother were wrongly identified as appearing in a child sexual abuse video.
The police and council have paid £20,000 in damages and Wakefield council apologised for the “horrendous” allegation, after the girl and her brother were kept in care for more than nine months.
It emerged that the police had known for months that the video did not show the girl and her mother before the children were returned.
Judgments in the family court are usually private, but Mr Justice Cobb decided to make his ruling, issued this week, public on the condition that the family involved was not identified.
The two children, a boy and a girl, were removed and placed in foster care in February 2015 after their parents were arrested in relation to an investigation into child sexual abuse content.
During the search, police found a video that they believed showed the mother engaged in a sex act with the daughter and a photograph they believed showed the daughter.
The children were kept out of any contact with their parents for several days after being taken into care, despite expressing “very considerable distress”, the judge wrote, and a lack of coordination between the police and safeguarding authority meant that the girl was medically examined twice in three days.
Forensic experts told the officer leading the investigation, DS Hudson, in late March that video analysis had “eliminated” the mother…
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