London

Witchcraft child abuse cases investigated by Met rise by over 50%

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionMardoche, 24, was accused of being a witch when he was eight

The number of child abuse cases involving witchcraft that were dealt with by the Met has risen by over 50% in three years, the force has revealed.

In 2015, Scotland Yard investigated 60 cases where youths had been accused of being possessed by evil spirits.

Experts say children are often subjected to "brutal" treatment such as being beaten or having chilli rubbed in their eyes during exorcisms.

Campaigners have called for more help to protect vulnerable children.

Cases reported to police involved children being sent for deliverance ceremonies in Britain and abroad, particularly in Africa.

Image caption Some children accused of being possessed are subjected to deliverance ceremonies

Amma Anane-Agyei, a social worker from Tower Hamlet's African children and families services, told the Victoria Derbyshire Programme the number of cases "are on the increase".

"This is not an issue we can sit back and hope go away", she said.

Prof Jean La Fontaine, a witchcraft expert from the University of London who has studied more than 30 of the cases reported to the Met, said "terrible things happen" during exorcisms.

She said young people who are at risk "are completely silenced" at present and has called for a helpline to be set up to "empower children".

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites