1. ITV Report

Rise in child abuse cases linked to twisted beliefs in witchcraft

More and more cases of ritual child abuse linked to twisted beliefs in witchcraft are being reported to the police.

Scotland Yard has received 27 allegations in the past year, including two claims of rape; a child being swung around and smacked in the head "to drive out the devil" and other youngsters being dunked in water.

Credit: PA

A number of horrific child killings have been linked to these beliefs, including the murder of 15-year-old Kristy Bamu, who was tortured and drowned by his sister and her boyfriend in 2010; and the death of Victoria Climbie.

Victoria Climbie Credit: PA

The number of cases ritualistic or faith-based abuse of children reported to Scotland Yard has increased year-on-year over the past decade.

  • A total of 24 were passed to the force in 2013; 19 in 2012 and nine in 2011
  • Since 2004, 148 cases have been referred to the Met

Police officers will meet with a group including teachers, child care and health workers today at London's City Hall to discuss how to tackle the issue, which is rarely reported.

Abuse linked to belief is a horrific crime which is condemned by people of all cultures, communities and faiths. A number of high-profile investigations brought the issue of ritual abuse and witchcraft into the headlines but it is important that professionals are clear about the signs to look for.

Families or carers genuinely believe that the victim has been completely taken over by the devil or an evil spirit, which is often supported by someone who within the community has portrayed themselves as an authority on faith and belief.

Regardless of the beliefs of the abusers, child abuse is child abuse.

– Detective Superintendent Terry Sharpe, Metropolitan Police

A new training film will be launched at the event today.

We are not remotely surprised that the Metropolitan Police alone has already received 27 referrals of this type this year - or three a month.

We are pleased that the Metropolitan Police has undertaken such great work in this area, but we are convinced that this form of abuse is hidden, and that the statutory agencies across the UK are facing similar situations.

– Simon Bass, Churches' Child Protection Advisory Service

Kristy Bamu's appalling death was one of a handful of chilling cases where an apparent belief in witchcraft has been linked to extreme violence against children.

Kristy Bamu Credit: PA

The 15-year-old was tortured and savagely beaten before he drowned in a bath at his sister's flat in east London on Christmas Day 2010.

Magalie Bamu and her boyfriend Eric Bikubi became convinced that he was possessed by kindoki, or witchcraft, and was trying to harm or control another child of the family.

Magalie Bamu and Eric Bikubi Credit: PA

Another case that sparked public revulsion was that of Victoria Climbie, who was beaten, burned with cigarettes and forced to sleep in a bin liner in a bath during her short life.

The eight-year-old's great aunt Marie Therese Kouao and her boyfriend Carl Manning both claimed that the little girl was possessed. They were found guilty of her murder in 2001.

Marie Therese Kouao and her niece Victoria Climbie Credit: PA