City of London Police clear in its commitment to protecting vulnerable children
City of London Police is committed to keeping children safe from harm, according to a new report by HMICFRS. However, the force needs to implement several improvements before it can provide a truly consistent service.
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HMICFRS examined the effectiveness of the decisions made by the police at each stage of their interactions with or for children, from initial contact through to the investigation of offences against them. The inspection also scrutinised the treatment of children in custody, and assessed how the force is structured, led and governed, in relation to its child protection services.
As detailed in the subsequent report, City of London Police: National Child Protection Inspection 2019, these areas of good practice included:
- senior leaders in the force are highly committed to protecting vulnerable people, including children;
- there are good ratios of supervisors to officers and caseloads are manageable.; and
- the force’s response to reports of missing children was excellent and frontline staff in all roles responded to these incidents as priorities.
However, HMICFRS also noted that there are several problems, including:
- the force is doing little to identify, pursue or disrupt online offenders involved in the downloading or distributing of indecent images of children in its area;
- we found inconsistent recognition of risk and weaknesses in investigations that weren’t addressed by effective supervision; and
- the force values and invests in training, but fundamental gaps remain in the workforce’s knowledge of vulnerability.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said:
“City of London Police is clear in its commitment to protecting vulnerable children and has made it a priority. We found some examples of good practice, notably the forces’ excellent response to reports of missing children.
“There were some areas where the force needs to improve however. In particular, the force needs to improve its workforce’s knowledge of vulnerability.
“We have made recommendations that will help improve outcomes for children if the force acts on them. We will revisit City of London Police no later than six months after the publication of this report to assess its response.”
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- In March 2020 we suspended our inspection activity to enable forces and fire and rescue services to focus on dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. We deferred this report’s publication as part of this suspension. HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Thomas Winsor comments in detail on this as part of his annual assessment of policing, published on 2 July 2020. Our findings in this report are based upon evidence we collected before the pandemic was declared. Care should be taken if seeking to make links between our findings and police performance during the lockdown.
- 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.
- 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.