The benefits of a new child safeguarding department in Northumbria Police have yet to be realised, according to a report published today by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
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The report welcomes the force’s investment in child protection services, but voices concerns about how this investment has yet to improve the service provided to children.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said:
“I am confident that the Northumbria Police takes its safeguarding duties very seriously. Senior leaders have worked hard to improve awareness of vulnerability and risk across the force. Officers and staff had a strong understanding of what it means to keep the vulnerable safe.
“However, we found evidence that poor recording practices often undermined good police work. Frontline officers need to have quick and easy access to investigation details to help them make the right decisions. Incomplete or missing information can lead to ineffective protection plans and leave children exposed to unnecessary risk.
“Specialist officers are knowledgeable, committed and motivated. I was encouraged to see that individual officers took an effective investigative and protective approach to child protection. But this approach needs to be applied more consistently across the force.
“Northumbria Police has done some commendable work and is in a strong position to improve its child protection strategy. We expect to see further progress when we return later in the year.”
Inspectors were pleased to find that:
- child abuse cases were generally conducted in a timely and meaningful way; and
- the force had invested in training its frontline and specialist officers and staff about their roles in safeguarding children.
Inspectors were concerned to find that:
- there was insufficient oversight of decision making when children were reported missing; and
- cases involving domestic abuse with children in the family (but not present at the time of the incident) were not conducted to the expected standard.
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- Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) 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.
- Under the National Child Protection Inspection (NCPI) programme, HMICFRS 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 HMICFRS 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. HMICFRS 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, HMICFRS 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.
- HMICFRS 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. HMICFRS inspects all 43 police forces in England and Wales together with other major policing and law enforcement bodies.
- For further information, HMICFRS’s press office can be contacted from 8:30am – 5:00pm Monday – Friday on 020 3513 0600.
- HMICFRS’s out-of-hours press office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217729.
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