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.
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.)