Child protection in Lincolnshire is improving but more work is needed
Improvements have been made by Lincolnshire Police to help keep vulnerable children safe, but further changes are needed, a new report has found.
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HMICFRS had previously raised concerns about Lincolnshire Police’s child protection services – including that the standard of child abuse investigations was being affected by staff absence, and cases where children go missing from home were not being properly handled.
Today’s report found that specialist staff are better trained and staffing in teams investigating child abuse is now at the level planned by senior managers. As a result, the standard of investigations has improved.
The report said that the force now works more closely with its safeguarding partners to understand why some children regularly go missing and makes plans to keep them safer.
However, we also found that some challenges remained for the force’s child protection services, including:
- some investigations are not progressing or being closed too soon, particularly in cases where child abuse images were shared;
- body-worn video is not used often enough, especially in domestic abuse cases; and
- Police officers are still not gathering and recording children’s views enough, affecting around one third of all incidents involving children exposed to domestic abuse.
Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary Zoë Billingham said:
“Lincolnshire Police has a critical duty to keep children across the region safe from harm.
“This is the third time we have inspected the force’s child protection services since 2018, and I am pleased to see that many of our previous concerns have been addressed.
“But there is still more work to do in order to provide better outcomes for vulnerable children in Lincolnshire – from ensuring body-worn video is used where it could help children, to actually gathering and recording the views of the children themselves.
“The pace of progress has been impeded partly, but not exclusively, by the impact of the pandemic.
“I am reassured that senior leaders in the force understand where improvements need to be made, have plans in place and are monitoring this critical area of policing closely. We will continue to work with the force to monitor progress.”
The latest inspection of Lincolnshire Police was carried out remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. HMICFRS inspectors interviewed senior leaders, frontline police officers and staff, audited child protection cases, and examined policies and strategies.
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- For interview requests or further information please contact the HMICFRS Press Office from 09:00 – 17:00 Monday to Friday on 07836 217729 or HMICPressOffice@hmicfrs.gov.uk.
- For urgent media enquiries out of hours please call 07836 217729.
- Lincolnshire Police’s child protection services were first inspected in September 2018 when HMICFRS found improvements were needed to keep vulnerable children safe.
- As a result, a second inspection was carried out in October 2019. At the time, inspectors said progress had been made but they were still concerned about the standard of investigations.
- A third inspection was carried out in October 2020 to check that the force had made satisfactory progress. The results of this inspection were published today (15 January 2021).
- The remote inspection was carried out with the support of Lincolnshire Police who provided IT to HMICFRS inspection staff, which allowed access to all the force’s systems and case files.