A police officer who had to repeatedly watch children being abused is suing her bosses for more than £200,000, it has been reported.
Cara Creaby, 29, has been signed off work with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) since 2015 after becoming unable to cope with her work.
As part of the Metropolitan Police’s Sapphire Unit, Creaby worked exclusively on cases involving child abuse, reports the Mail on Sunday .
But she said that one case, about three young girls who were groomed and then abused by notorious paedophile Michael D’Costa, pushed her over the edge.
As part of the investigation, Creaby had to repeatedly comb through hours of footage in 100 separate videos of D’Costa abusing the three victims, who she was the main liaison officer for.
She said that being exposed to the "harrowing and dangerous material" left her experiencing "intrusive flashbacks and nightmares", ruined her sex life with her husband, and ultimately gave her PTSD.
Papers served at the High Court as part of her case against the Met, thought to be the first of its kind, state that Creaby formed an "emotional bond" with the three young girls throughout the case as she supported and interviewed them.
This made watching the videos of their horrific ordeal all the more traumatising, it claims.
Despite telling her bosses she was struggling with the case and becoming tired, unkempt and emotional in the office, Creaby claims that she did not receive adequate support.
The Met did refer her to their occupational health team, who suggested she reduce her hours, but her bosses still made her continue on the case, including going to court to see D’Costa plead guilty to 25 sexual offences.
The case papers say: "It is alleged that [her] injuries were caused by her involvement in the investigation of the sexual exploitation of three young girls, and by the excessive viewing of harmful photographic and video material relating to child sexual exploitation."
There was an "absence of risk assessments and health and safety surveillance which would have protected her from the risk of foreseeable psychiatric harm" and a failure to "provide her with assistance in having to undertake difficult and harrowing work", they continue.
Creaby is being supported in her case against the Met by the Police Federation. Their spokesperson said: "In order to investigate some of the most serious criminal offences there is a recognised need for investigators to view some of the most harrowing, disturbing and distressing images imaginable.
"But the effect that viewing such material can have on officers must be recognised and acknowledged and it is vital that officers – especially those who undertake these types of roles – are provided with appropriate and ongoing workplace monitoring, supervision, and assistance in order to protect their own health and wellbeing, and that all necessary risk assessments and checks are undertaken to safeguard them in their roles."
In a statement, the Met said: "A claim for damages due to psychiatric injury, dated 22 February 2018, has been received by the Metropolitan Police Service. The claim is currently being reviewed by solicitors acting on behalf of the Met."
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