An 18-month old girl who police mistakenly allowed to be taken by an impostor from a station has been found.
Audrey Kessie Nyanor’s mother, Cynthia Boakye, 36, was arrested on Thursday in Southwark, south London, over alleged immigration offences.
A woman claiming she was a friend of Ms Boakye went to Walworth police station and took the toddler.
The child was found in Harlesden, north London. A woman, 31, has been arrested on suspicion of abduction.
A Met spokesman said officers were called at 1400 GMT by a member of the public and that the toddler and the 31-year-old woman were found 55 minutes later on Harlesden High Street.
The woman remains in police custody at a west London police station.
Another six people were arrested during the investigation. One has been released and the other five are bailed to return to south London police stations in February next year.
The spokesman added: “While we are pleased to have found Audrey safe and well.
“We are working closely with colleagues in our Directorate of Professional Standards to investigate the circumstances surrounding this incident, to look at how it happened, and to ensure that any lessons are learned.
“In the meantime, the matter has also been voluntarily referred to the IPCC.”
Earlier, Audrey’s grandmother Agatha Owsuah, 54, of Peckham, south-east London, said the police made a “great mistake”.
She said Audrey’s mother should have been asked to confirm the woman’s identity before the toddler was handed over.
They should have asked for ID before handing over a human being to someone
“All the time in this country they check your identity,” she said.
“They ask for my ID when I take money from the bank, they ask for ID before you can get a job.
“They should have asked for ID before handing over a human being to someone.”
The child went missing after officers went to an address in Walworth to make inquiries about a man wanted for failing to appear at court.
He was not in, but police arrested Ms Boakye and took the pair to Walworth police station.
Mrs Owsuah said an officer asked her daughter who they could call to look after the toddler.
Phone call ‘overheard’
“Cynthia gave them a relative’s number but the officer would not let her call and went outside the room to make the phone call,” the grandmother said.
She thinks someone overheard that phone call and then came back to the police station pretending to be the relative and was given Audrey.
She said the woman who took Audrey gave a different address to the one the relative gave over the phone.
A police spokesman said: “The details she gave to police corresponded with the name of the woman Audrey’s mother had told police would pick up her daughter, and as a result she left the police station with the child.”
Mrs Owsuah’s husband, Eric Obeng, 48, said police arrested him and several other relatives and friends the day after Audrey was taken but later bailed them without charge.
He said: “They thought we had taken the child. Why would we do that?
“Why would we take our own child? The police were wasting time.”
Audrey’s mother was later released on bail.
The Metropolitan Police has begun an internal inquiry into what happened.