HMIC has today published an inspection report into the child protection work carried out by Gloucestershire Constabulary, following an inspection in February 2017. This is part of a rolling programme of child protection inspections of all police forces in England and Wales.
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Inspectors were pleased to find:
- child protection is a priority for the force;
- a clear commitment from officers and staff who are dedicated to protecting children;
- an established multi-agency Child Sexual Exploitation Team; and
- a good approach to the management of sex offenders and those who pose a risk to the safety of children.
However, inspectors were concerned to find:
- improvements needed to the support and supervision of investigations into child sexual exploitation and missing and absent children;
- the vulnerability of children who regularly go missing from home was not identified at the earliest opportunity; and
- an inconsistent approach to training officers and staff.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams said:
“I was pleased to find that Gloucestershire Constabulary has dedicated staff who demonstrate a strong commitment to improving services for children. However, while we found areas of good work, this commitment is not yet translating into a consistent service for children.
“We found some good examples of multi-agency work, putting the safety of children as the top priority during collaboration to improve services. This includes a process whereby any child suspected as being at risk of abuse is assessed by police, working with schools and healthcare providers to mitigate the risk and keep that child safe. I would encourage other police forces to study this effective approach.
“Despite some positives, we found the constabulary’s approach in other areas lacking. We were seriously concerned to find that the approach to missing and absent children is not consistent. Children who are at risk of sexual exploitation are not being identified quickly enough and in some cases there was no evidence that children had been looked for when reported missing. This needs urgent attention.
“The force must do more to improve the support and supervision of investigations into child sexual exploitation and missing and absent children. While the force is taking some steps to address this, it must ensure that safeguarding children at risk is prioritised and actions are taken at the earliest opportunity. We found a concerning case involving two young victims of domestic violence. The girls, aged four and one, had been identified at being at risk of domestic abuse and placed on a child protection plan. There had since been numerous reports that the children had been assaulted. Despite this, we found no evidence of police action or that these reports had been recorded as crimes. This is unacceptable.
“We expect to see the force build on the progress it has made in certain areas, and ensure the recommendations we have made are swiftly addressed.”
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Notes to editors
- Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) is inspecting the child protection work of every police force in England and Wales. The reports are intended to provide information for the police, the police and crime commissioner (PCC) and the public on how well children are protected and their needs are met, and to secure improvements for the future. In the last 12 months, HMIC has published reports on:
- Under the National Child Protection Inspection (NCPI) programme, HMIC will assess how effectively each force in England and Wales safeguards children and young people at risk, make recommendations to forces for improving child protection practice, highlight effective practice in child protection work and drive improvements in forces’ child protection practice.
- Follow up activity by HMIC is an integral part of the NCPI programme. It allows inspectors to assess the progress each force is making in its work to improve services for the safety and protection of children. HMIC aims to revisit each force no later than six months after the publication of the initial NCP inspection report to assess how it is managing the implementation of the recommendations.
- In July 2015, HMIC published ‘In harm’s way: the role of the police in keeping children safe’ – based on findings from 21 inspections on the police response to child protection conducted over the last two years. This incorporates inspections from the first eight forces inspected under the NCPI programme.
- HMIC is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing in the public interest, and assesses and reports on the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces to tackle crime and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise confidence. HMIC inspects all 43 police forces in England and Wales together with other major policing and law enforcement bodies.
- For further information, HMIC’s press office can be contacted during office hours from 8:30am – 5:00pm Monday – Friday on 020 3513 0600.
- HMIC’s out-of-hours press office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217 729.