Cleveland Police making ‘slow progress’ in child protection, but headed in the right direction
Cleveland Police’s child protection initiatives have had mixed success, according to a report published today by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
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The report concluded that while the force has taken positive steps to improve how it keeps children safe, Cleveland Police’s good work has not yet translated into better outcomes for children.
The post-inspection review follows an initial inspection in May 2017 which found that poor supervision and record-keeping had undermined decision-making and safeguarding measures in a significant number of cases.
While the force has implemented new measures to address these failings, in some cases it was too early to tell if they were helping children to get the support and protection they need.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Phil Gormley said:
“Where Cleveland Police has acted quickly, we’ve seen some real improvements. Children in custody are treated better. The force takes on board the views of children affected by domestic abuse. It has shown a genuine commitment to do better, introducing its own child protection case audits to keep track of its own performance.
“That said, there are some areas where the force has made slow progress. For instance, Cleveland Police has introduced new guidance to help officers respond appropriately to missing children incidents. But when we looked at eight cases involving missing children, we found the force’s response was inadequate.
“Cleveland Police immediately took steps to address our concerns and take corrective action. Whilst encouraging, and I welcome the force’s willingness to respond to our feedback, it is too soon to be confident these new processes are having a positive impact on outcomes for children.
“This was a recurring theme across our inspection. There was insufficient evidence to demonstrate if the forces frontline training had yet improved the operational delivery. A new triage system – intended to speed up response times in domestic abuse cases – produced a backlog of nearly 500 cases in its first three weeks. It is unclear if these changes have helped children at risk.
“The force accepts it has more work to do and is striving to improve. With this in mind, I am confident that Cleveland Police is making every effort to enhance the service it provides to vulnerable children.”
HMICFRS will continue to monitor Cleveland Police’s progress against the recommendations from its 2017 report. It will also assess the force’s understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability as part of the force’s Integrated PEEL Assessment in 2019.
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- HMICFRS is inspecting the child protection work of every police force in England and Wales. The reports provide information for the police, the police and crime commissioner 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.
- On 19 July 2017, HMIC took on responsibility for fire & rescue service inspections and was renamed HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services.
- HMICFRS is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing and fire & rescue services in the public interest. It assesses and reports on the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces and fire & rescue services.
- HMICFRS inspects all 43 police forces in England and Wales together with other major policing and law enforcement bodies. It also inspects all 45 fire and rescue services in England.
- 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.