Bedfordshire Police has made some progress to improve the service it provides to vulnerable victims, but still has much more work to do
In December 2015, Bedfordshire Police was one of four forces HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) graded as inadequate at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm and supporting victims. HMIC found that Bedfordshire Police needed to urgently the serious weaknesses in its arrangements for protecting vulnerable people. The force still had more work to do in relation to tackling domestic abuse to ensure victims received a reliable and effective response. We also had serious concerns about the way Bedfordshire Police responded to and protected missing children, particularly looked-after children.
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In April 2016, HMIC carried out an inspection revisit to examine whether the force has improved how it protects vulnerable victims.
During the revisit, HMIC found that the force:
- has made some progress to improve its approach to missing and absent children, but there is still much more to do, which the force recognises;
- is committed to continue to train its officers and staff in the THRIVE risk assessment process, but needs to ensure that it is prioritising training in the context of many other demands;
- no longer assesses risk for domestic abuse victims over the telephone;
- needs to ensure that it communicates clearly and consistently its priorities around vulnerability to all officers and staff; and
- has considerably more to do to ensure that it equips its officers and staff with the right skills to support vulnerable victims.
HMI Zoë Billingham said:
“When we inspected Bedfordshire Police in 2015, we found the force was failing vulnerable victims and needed to urgently address a number of serious weaknesses in its arrangements for protecting vulnerable people from harm. I am encouraged that since this inspection, the force has shown a commitment to improve in this crucial area of policing and has made some progress, but still has much more to do to ensure that the most vulnerable members of the community are properly protected.
“Particular areas of concern remain. The force’s current approach to missing and absent children is still inconsistent and ineffective, which means that children could still be at risk as a result. While the force has taken steps to increase the number of specially trained frontline staff, it needs to be confident that this is sufficient to meet the current and future demand. An effective police force places vulnerable people and children at the heart of everything that it does. Bedfordshire Police needs to work harder to instil a change of mindset and approach to vulnerability among all frontline officers and staff, which will only be successful if it is underpinned by support from the chief officer team and senior leaders within the force.
“On a positive note, I am pleased to find that the force has improved how it assesses the level of risk posed to victims of domestic abuse, which was a significant concern in 2015. It is also encouraging to find that partnership working and sharing of information have improved. However, more work is still required to ensure that those in greatest need receive the police’s protection and support and we look forward to seeing further progress during our effectiveness inspection in autumn 2016.”
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- HMIC is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing in the public interest, and rigorously examines 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 bodies.
- Based on a mix of analysis, fieldwork and reality testing, the initial inspection in 2015 graded every force’s performance against the overall question, ‘How effective is the force at protecting from harm those who are vulnerable and supporting victims?’
- In 2015, HMIC looked at how well forces respond to and safeguard specific vulnerable groups (missing and absent children & victims of domestic abuse); and how well prepared forces are to tackle child sexual exploitation.
- In 2015, HMIC judged how effective forces were at protecting vulnerable people. 12 forces were judged to be ‘good’, 27 forces to ‘require improvement’ and 4 forces to be ‘inadequate’.
- The inspection included an assessment of the force’s progress in tackling and preventing domestic abuse in the 18 months since the publication of HMIC’s report Everyone’s Business in March 2014.
- The four forces HMIC judged in 2015 to be inadequate were: Bedfordshire Police, Essex Police, Staffordshire Police and Surrey Police. Because of this grading, all four forces were subjected to revisit inspections by HMIC.
- 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.