Lancashire Constabulary needs to provide better protection to children at risk of harm – but shows encouraging commitment to improvement
Lancashire Constabulary demonstrates a clear commitment to providing a good service for vulnerable children in need of protection. However, it needs urgently to provide better protection for those children most at risk, according to an inspection report out today by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
The inspection was carried out in October 2017. It is one of a rolling programme of child protection inspections of all police forces in England and Wales.
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Inspectors were pleased to find:
- multi-agency teams responsible for preventing child sexual exploitation are improving outcomes for children through early intervention and prevention activity;
- improvements to the way information is shared between the police and other public sector organisations responsible for safeguarding children. As a result, better plans are in place to protect children; and
- the constabulary has a clear focus on reducing the vulnerability of young people through its Early Action initiative. This helps to prevent children from engaging in crime and to provide support for them and their families.
However, inspectors were concerned to find:
- some of the constabulary’s basic processes for recording child protection incidents are weak;
- many frontline officers see their responsibility for safeguarding children as limited to identifying children as vulnerable on the police system. This can result in missed opportunities to protect children at the earliest opportunity; and
- overall, the service provided to children in need of help needs to improve.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said:
“Lancashire Constabulary and its senior leaders are committed to providing the best service for vulnerable children. The force has taken steps to improve information-sharing in each of the multi-agency teams, which helps to improve outcomes for children through early intervention and prevention activity.
“However, there were weaknesses in the constabulary’s approach to child protection. Frontline officers do not always recognise children in need of safeguarding at the earliest opportunity, resulting in some children being exposed to the risk of harm. Many of the departments and supervisors responsible for child protection struggle to manage high levels of demand because of workload pressures. This compromises effective investigations.
“Overall, Lancashire Constabulary is not yet providing a service which is capable of safeguarding all children at risk of harm. However, we were encouraged to note that following our inspection the force has taken immediate steps to address the issues identified. We will return to the constabulary in the next six months to assess how it has responded to our recommendations.”
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Notes to editors
- 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. In the last 12 months, HMICFRS has published reports on:
- Bedfordshire Police – published November 2017
- Cleveland Constabulary – published September 2017
- Cumbria Constabulary – published September 2017
- Gloucestershire Constabulary – published June 2017
- Leicestershire Police – published June 2017
- Humberside Police – published April 2017
- Metropolitan Police Service – published November 2016
- 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’ press office can be contacted during office hours from 8:30am – 5:00pm Monday – Friday on 020 3513 0600.
- HMICFRS’ out-of-hours press office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217 729.