Leicestershire Police has made encouraging progress to improving child protection, but still has some areas to address
HMIC has today published an inspection report into the child protection work carried out by Leicestershire Police, following an inspection in January 2017. This is part of a rolling programme of child protection inspections of all police forces in England and Wales.
Protecting children is one of the most important tasks that the police undertake. Only the police can investigate suspected crimes and arrest perpetrators. Police officers have the power to take a child who is in danger into a place of safety, or to seek an order to restrict an offender’s contact with children. The police service has a significant role working with other agencies to ensure the child’s protection and long term well-being.
Although Leicestershire Police is clearly committed to improving its child protection arrangements, at the time of the inspection HMIC found that the service to children still needed to improve in some important areas.
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Inspectors were pleased to find:
- good multi-agency working arrangements to encourage collaboration and sharing of information relating to child protection;
- provision of over 2,000 sessions (since 2016) of protecting vulnerable people training throughout the force;
- production of a powerful video campaign to raise public awareness of the risks of child grooming.
However, inspectors were concerned to find:
- ineffective identification and management of some instances of child sexual exploitation;
- the downgrading of some high risk domestic abuse incidents, which potentially exposed victims to further risk;
- the force’s response to children who regularly go missing from home requires improvement, in particular in understanding the links between children who regularly go missing and sexual exploitation.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoë Billingham said:
“It is clear that there is a real commitment within the force to protect children, with work already being undertaken to rectify the issues we found during our inspection. I was encouraged by the strong partnership working arrangements across the force area, with collaboration and innovation demonstrated in improving protection for children.
“There are some vitally important areas the force needs to improve upon however, and I am keen to see this dedication and commitment translate into improved services for children. I would like to see the force develop its approach to the identification and prevention of child sexual exploitation. I was particularly concerned to find high-risk cases of domestic abuse being downgraded. We identified a number of examples where downgrading was wholly inappropriate, which potentially exposed victims and their families to greater risk. I am encouraged that the force has taken steps to ensure this doesn’t happen, and are reviewing previous cases that had been downgraded. However, it is concerning that this was happening in the first place.
“The force has been responsive to our findings, and I am confident it understands the task ahead of it. I expect to see the force build on the good work it is doing in certain areas, and ensure the recommendations HMIC has made are swiftly addressed. I shall be closely monitoring the force’s progress, in particular its review of previously downgraded domestic abuse cases.”
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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.
- 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’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.