Outcome of Equality

There’s an awful lot wrong in this story:

A police officer is suing the Metropolitan Police after watching hours of child rape videos as part of an investigation left her with post traumatic stress disorder. Cara Creaby is seeking more than £200,000 in damages for the ‘psychiatric injury’ she says she suffered while investigating the rape of three young girls, according to the Mail on Sunday.

Okay.

The 29-year-old, from Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, joined the Met in 2009 and three years later became part of the ‘Sapphire Unit’ handling child abuse cases. In December 2014 she was made the main contact for three young girls suspected of being victims of grooming and serious sexual offences by disabled paedophile Michael D’Costa – who would later be jailed for 16 years. As Sexual Offence Investigative Technique officer, Mrs Creaby had to search the paedophile’s home and seized a diary detailing his crimes, more than 100 videos of him abusing the girls, and children’s clothing and school bags. High Court papers say Mrs Creaby formed an ‘emotional bond’ with the girls, whom she had to support and interview, which was ‘especially harrowing’ as she also had to view footage of them being ‘sexually abused and degraded’.

I’m obviously speaking as a layman here, but this looks like a case where a separation of roles might have been a good idea. Is it really sensible that the person who “supports” the victims of paedophiles also has to review the most gruesome bits of evidence? I’d have thought police psychologists would have set up the roles and assigned the tasks such that “emotional bonds” didn’t form where they might hamper the investigating officer or leave them traumatised.

For example, I had a friend who was a Royal Marine officer and, as part of his duties, was once called upon to inform a woman on the base that her husband had been badly wounded in Afghanistan and was now a triple amputee. How it works is two officers who don’t personally know the family are selected to walk up to the door, ring the bell, and immediately tell the woman what has happened. I’m not sure how long they spend with her, but they quickly hand over to a support team who takes things from there. The idea is this poor woman will form a more constructive psychological attachment to the support team members than if they’d been the ones to break the initial news. According to the plan, the woman will never see the two officers again in her life, thus sparing her flashbacks and ruined relations. Whoever came up with this system thought about it and worked out the psychological impact of each step, and how to separate the roles. My friend said it was one of the worst things he’s ever had to do in his life.

So my question is, why hasn’t a similar procedure been applied to police investigating harrowing crimes against children?

She would spend ‘at least eight hours at a time’ watching the videos to work out what happened in them, the documents say.

Couldn’t this task have been assigned to somebody who has never met the children, with the lead investigator only seeing those parts essential for securing a conviction?

It is claimed Mrs Creaby told her superiors ‘multiple times’ about the volume of her work and the effect it was having on her, but she was just told to ‘carry on as best she could’. According to her lawyer, David Mies at Slater & Gordon, there was no risk assessment, offers of help or consideration of how to share the workload.

Is this true, or is she just looking for a payout? I’m inclined towards the former.

By March 2015, Mrs Creaby was said to be ‘visibly struggling’ and became ‘more tired, unkempt, short with colleagues and emotional in the workplace’ but again was allegedly not given any support.

If this can be proved, and I suspect it can, she’s likely to win this case.

She also began to ‘experience intrusive flashbacks and nightmares of the child rape she had been required to watch’ and also ‘noticed that when she was with her partner, any act of intimacy caused her to panic and become tearful’.

Frankly, this sort of thing would affect the stoutest of people. Presumably this is why, until recently, only certain types of people would be considered for severely stressful and difficult jobs, but we’ve since moved into a world where anybody can do any job, and indeed have a right to. There was a time when the job of sifting through a paedophile’s home movie collection would have been handed to a man with a strong constitution, not a woman who was clearly not up to it.

She was diagnosed with PTSD as a result and according to the legal documents, the officer asked for help but was told by bosses at Scotland Yard to ‘stick to the job at hand’.

Well, yeah. We’ve been told for some time now that women can do the same jobs as men regardless, and this theory is now being severely tested. Telling a highly traumatised and obviously suffering woman to “stick to the job at hand” is perfectly consistent with telling women they are equally suited to all aspects of policing (and every other profession) as men. Both are heinously irresponsible; this woman should never have been given such a task in the first place. We’re going to see a lot more lawsuits like this.

(I’ve written before about people in the wrong job.)

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21 thoughts on “Outcome of Equality

  1. Two things that caught my eye were:

    Slater & Gordon I thought they had got rid of their UK business but not quite yet; and

    £200,000 is a pretty small quantum.

  2. According to her lawyer, David Mies at Slater & Gordon, there was no risk assessment, offers of help or consideration of how to share the workload.

    Ah. The late Ms. Raccoon’s old friends. They have form when it comes to running behind emergency vehicles – allegedly.

    Having said that, my great uncle was one of the investigating officers on the Moors murders. He left the force not long after the conclusion of the case. Never spoke about it.

  3. @Henry Crun: “Having said that, my great uncle was one of the investigating officers on the Moors murders. He left the force not long after the conclusion of the case. “

    I remember one of the police officers (all big, tough,m capable men back then, of course) saying he could never after bear to listen to the song ‘Little Dummer Boy’ at Christmas, thanks to its use as a backing track for the audio tape the monsters recorded.

    These days, it’d be full video.

  4. I’m not sure it’s men being more suited to this kind of thing rather than women, God knows I can hardly bear thinking about it, never mind sitting through it repeatedly*.

    However I agree about the separation of the tasks and that the force needs to make sure whoever has to watch this stuff is a) able to cope with it and b) doesn’t have to do it every day for several years.

    If her story is true then I don’t think the claim is unreasonable. Although dodgy lawyers always make me suspicious.

    *presumably this is to confirm identity and what crimes were committed. In an ideal world once we were sure Perp A was the rapist of Child B everyone could be saved a lot of trauma with a short drop followed by burning of the corpse and video in the same facility.

  5. So it sounds like big burly men can t cope with this filth any better than weedy little girlies. Who can blame them.

    The cops clearly aren’t set up to pull people out of these situations in time to prevent damage. That, not the fact that women are no longer tied to the kitchen sink, appears to be the root cause.

    Mc is right. Just thinking about this stuff is traumatic. Doing the viewing would scar most people for life. How people manage to review this material and not go straight out and murder the perps slowly and painfully is beyond me.

  6. There is a more robust way of looking at this. The woman was “Sexual Offence Investigative Technique officer”, whatever that’s supposed to mean. One presumes the task is to collect & analyse evidence in the case. And part of the evidence would be coming from the victims. It’s quite hard to see how one could conduct meaningful interviews with three young girls without being privy to the material evidence the interviews would concern. You wouldn’t know what questions to ask or understand the context of responses.
    Presumably the woman volunteered for this role. She must have understood she’d be exposed to some pretty harrowing experiences. Surely a vital aspect of this sort of work would be to not become emotionally involved with the victims. In the same way as you wouldn’t want a first response medic who was going to be traumatised by witnessing serious injury & spilt blood. It looks like she failed to distance herself from her work &, frankly, couldn’t cut it in the work she’d chosen.
    Again, presumably she didn’t request to be removed from the role. but asked for “help”. Sorry, but this sounds like yet another case of someone not being capable of doing the job they’ve elected to do, expecting allowances to be made for them & demanding compensation when they fuck it up.

  7. Here’s another suggestion. Select your officer with care, and give them the videos to view. As soon as there is credible evidence of just one single rape of a child, then switch off, bang the perp into jail until such time that his libido has long departed and he is a broken elderly man with prison psychosis. Keep the videos under lock and key to guard against the possibility of appeal. Give the copper a big hug and a cup of strong sweet tea, and transfer them to another section.

  8. If a trained officer were to review the videos and produce an accurate verbal summary of what went on – or better, a team of officers reviewing different sections of video because I’m sure watching the same person being abused over long enough a time still produces some kind of bond – I am sure that would give the interviewing officer whatever information they needed to conduct the interview. As Tim says a separation of roles seems ideal here. Not so much an equality issue, more about designing roles appropriately.

    If I recall correctly, interviews concerning sex abuse on children tend to be limited – they don’t want them interviewed again and again and again, to avoid traumatising the kids (the police aren’t a counselling service) and maybe degrading the quality of evidence (if you have the kids talking for long enough with someone they really trust, could they be persuaded to say anything desired if led on appropriately?) but hopefully an expert can comment on that. If my memory is correct, that would reduce the bonding issue.

    For comparison, aren’t prison staff told not to engage in conversation with a particular prisoner on e.g. consecutive days, because it presents a risk of bonding (in that case leading to potential manipulation)?

  9. According to her lawyer, David Mies at Slater & Gordon, there was no risk assessment, offers of help or consideration of how to share the workload.

    Is this true, or is she just looking for a payout? I’m inclined towards the former.

    I hope so, but if the latter case was correct, Slugs and Grubs is certainly the firm that she would use.

  10. Sam Vara:

    Select your officer with care, and give them the videos to view. As soon as there is credible evidence of just one single rape of a child, then switch off, bang the perp into jail…

    The problem with this is that there might be additional victims or additional crimes in subsequent videos, so they have to watch every single one.

    Here in the colonies, my understanding is that officers rotate out of the child sex unit after 6 months, so they don’t get burnt out. I have no idea if this is actually true or not, but it seems like a good idea.

    Would it have helped this lady?

    …joined the Met in 2009 and three years later became part of the ‘Sapphire Unit’ handling child abuse cases. In December 2014 she was made the main contact for three young girls suspected of being victims…

    By March 2015, Mrs Creaby was said to be ‘visibly struggling’…

    …she was referred to Occupational Health and in April they suggested reduced hours, but she was still sent to speak to one of the girls in the case and attend D’Costa’s court hearing…

    In May that year she was ‘signed off sick’…

    That’s 2 to 3 years in the child abuse unit, with 6 months being spent on the D’Costa case. Was D’Costa the straw that broke the camel’s back, or was she fine up until that point? We don’t know.

  11. Matthew McC:

    “The problem with this is that there might be additional victims or additional crimes in subsequent videos, so they have to watch every single one.”

    I wouldn’t worry about additional crimes after an instance of child rape, but yes, your point about additional victims didn’t occur to me. Dear God, what a world.

  12. @MC”Just thinking about this stuff is traumatic. Doing the viewing would scar most people for life. How people manage to review this material and not go straight out and murder the perps slowly and painfully is beyond me.”
    Hopefully one day there will be a computer program to analyse it for the police.
    @Sam Vara there might be evidence against more criminals in later videos.

  13. So it sounds like big burly men can t cope with this filth any better than weedy little girlies.

    Well, if I were an HR manager I’d prefer my employees react by never speaking about it or avoiding listening to a related song than go into complete meltdown and sue the company for £200k, but that’s just me.

  14. Hmm, when we had, potentially, to set up to review KP, I went and asked the then Met Computer Crime Unit how they went about the H&S obligations to the staff. We took those on and, luckily, never had much actual stuff to look at.

    Either there is bollocks being talked here or the Met have relaxed their procedures or, possibly only slightly less likely than the first, the “we are the angels protecting the kiddies” people didn’t think they needed the same protections as the miserable bastards who had to get the videos off the paedos’ computers for them.

  15. I’m reminded of Jordan Peterson’s observation that PTSD occurs when naivety comes into contact with evil.

  16. “Either there is bollocks being talked here or the Met have relaxed their procedures or”

    Her brief has stated that “there was no risk assessment” I take it that UK legislation is risk based and they are basing their case on this. They must have exchanged by now if he is letting this out, but it is a well trodden and successful legal attack against an organisation, you would think that the Old Bill of all organisations would have had that covered. If I or any of my management team were to have presided over a situation without a risk assessment to demonstrate that we have properly assessed and minimised the risk of harm to an employee, that was subsequently harmed in the workplace and also that the employee was not aware and hadn’t agreed to the adequacy of the risk reduction measures my job would be on the line.

    Questions on the veracity of the risk assessment, yes, no risk assessment, no.

  17. Watching these sorts of videos is a job for sociopaths. People who don’t react the same way as other people to violence etc. I worked in Customs and there were some very friendly sociopaths who did the job in our office. They weren’t troubled the way normal people are by watching these things.

    Sociopaths however make terrible counselors.

  18. Not so much an equality issue, more about designing roles appropriately.

    I’d hazard a guess that a man would be less likely to form an emotional bond with an abused girl than a woman. Men are not particularly interested in other people’s children at the best of times, whereas women are. If that is true, it would nonetheless be illegal to take it into consideration when staffing the department. Which, I suspect, is how we got here.

  19. Watching these sorts of videos is a job for sociopaths. People who don’t react the same way as other people to violence etc.

    Exactly, it’s probably a similar mentality to someone who does autopsies on mangled bodies or pulls corpses from fires. I’m extremely surprised to find an ordinary person was assigned to the task.

  20. Questions on the veracity of the risk assessment, yes, no risk assessment, no.

    Indeed.

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