'Detectives would have to consider the potential cost of child abuse cases before launching inquiries under a controversial plan drawn up by Theresa May's local force.
A scorecard – the first of its kind – has been developed by Thames Valley Police to help decide which cases reported by third parties, such as social workers, teachers or relatives, should be investigated.
As part of a six-step 'decision-making framework', officers would assess the chances of the case being solved, the potential harm to a victim from an investigation, and the threat posed by the alleged offender.
After totting up the points, an overall positive score would result in an investigation going ahead – but a negative score would see the case being ditched.
However, in a move last night condemned by campaigners, one element involves considering the cost of an investigation and the possible impact that would have on other cases.
The scorecard notes that a typical complex child abuse probe involves 'seven victims, 88 witnesses, 21 suspects and ten defendants.
The investigation takes on average nine investigators working for two years at an average cost of £885,000'.
It adds: 'Where an investigation may cause significant detriment to other cases then this may weigh against the decision to undertake the investigation.'
MP Sarah Champion, a campaigner on child sexual exploitation, said: 'I am deeply shocked we now have to score points to secure justice.
'Faith in the police securing justice for child abuse victims will reach an all-time low if this insensitive and entirely inappropriate system goes ahead.'
Under the scheme, which is not yet in use, officers would award a score of between two and four to indicate how solvable the case is, and consider the threat posed by the attacker, scoring zero if they are dead or already serving a long jail term.
They also have to consider how distressed the victim and their family would be by an 'unsolicited approach' by police and deduct three points if they think the risk of harm is high.'
Read more: Police crime 'scorecard' may let child abusers off under controversial plans drawn up by Theresa May's force
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