Concern over force`s ability to manage demands from vulnerability

Cleveland Police is becoming overwhelmed by the number of child protection cases reported to the force, an inspection report has revealed.

Jan 22, 2018

Cleveland Police is becoming overwhelmed by the number of child protection cases reported to the force, an inspection report has revealed. Between November 20 and November 24, Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and HMI Probation (HMIP) carried out a joint inspection of the multi-agency response to abuse and neglect in Stockton-On-Tees, County Durham. The inspection focused on children of all ages who are being or have been neglected, as well as a ‘deep dive’ focus on children between seven and 15-years-old who have been neglected. Inspectors raised concerns about how Cleveland Police is managing demand linked to vulnerability, which has led to some investigations being delayed. It was recommended that the force should ensure staffing levels in the protecting vulnerable people support team remain appropriate to demand. However, the force was praised for introducing an extra detective chief inspector specialist crime role, which has strengthened its ability to manage demand and risk more effectively. This was funded by £2 million from police and crime commissioner Barry Coppinger, which has been used to increase resources in specialist teams. Leaders at the force were commended for ensuring the control room provides frontline officers with information concerning children at risk while they are on their way to deal with an incident, allowing for better assessment of cumulative risk factors. Children experiencing mental health difficulties also have fast access to therapeutic intervention, according to the report. While Cleveland Police was praised for developing additional training for officers, inconsistencies were found in the quality of child safeguarding decision-making from frontline officers. HMICFRS said incidents are often dealt with “in isolation”, and although the ‘Niche’ electronic information system uses flags to highlight areas of vulnerability, they are not routinely used. Despite this, no examples of decisions that left children at immediate risk of significant harm were found. Partner agencies are not consistently notified of children living in potentially neglectful environments by Cleveland Police, the report revealed. Inspectors sampled 65 domestic abuse incidents from the force’s backlog and found a number of examples in which officers had completed a domestic abuse risk assessment form but not a referral form in relation to children. Inspectors also found the pathway for the children’s hub to obtain information about adults using mental health services is not working effectively. Adult mental health professionals are often not invited to children’s meetings, when information about a parent’s mental health is valuable to address neglect of children.

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