More work to do despite child protection successes

Two forces have room to improve their child protection procedures despite some encouraging progress, according to HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

Sep 21, 2017

Two forces have room to improve their child protection procedures despite some encouraging progress, according to HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS). Cumbria Constabulary has “acted decisively” on previous recommendations but still needs to be more involved in partnership assessments, an inspection found. Meanwhile, Cleveland Police was criticised for its lack of supervision for investigations and its approach to missing children. However, HM Inspector of Constabulary Mike Cunningham pointed out that the force has undertaken some “innovative work”. “I was particularly impressed by the clear commitment from both staff and the chief officer team to improving services for children,” he said. “However, the force still needs to do more to ensure children receive the support and service they deserve. “In a significant number of cases we looked at there was poor supervision and record-keeping. The force’s response to children who regularly go missing from home also requires improvement.” The reports, published on Thursday (September 1), found Cleveland Police’s poor record-keeping and supervision have undermined its safeguarding measures. Feedback about vulnerability training also varied; while some staff felt the level of training had been appropriate, others had received none at all. During periods of high demand, the force was prone to missing “clear signs of risk” such as suspects with a history of domestic abuse. In one case, a man who reported being assaulted by his female partner in front of their baby was not visited by officers and no effort was made to establish his location or condition or to safeguard the child. HMICFRS found Cumbria Constabulary had invested in staff training, leading to better awareness and has allocated extra resources into its control room. Inspectors also highlighted good examples of multi-agency work to protect children, with clear evidence of strategic leadership and direction and strong management of registered sex offenders. Neighbourhood teams were kept well informed of known offenders in their areas. However, the report identified inconsistent decision-making and safeguarding arrangements as areas in needs of improvement. It also highlighted that more could be done to effectively respond to missing children, and a particular focus is needed on early intervention and ensuring officers understand potential links with sexual exploitation. Cumbria police and crime commissioner Peter McCall said: “Our police force is incredibly busy and I would like to extend my thanks on behalf of all Cumbrians to the chief officer team who impressed the inspectors with their total commitment to deliver the improvements, and to all officers and staff who have worked so hard to achieve this outcome. “I know that they will continue to address any outstanding issues; meanwhile I will continue to monitor progress on this closely.”

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