Met Police leaders now understand challenges, but child protection still needs to improve
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has made progress in protecting vulnerable children in the capital but there is more to do, according to the fourth in a series of child protection reports carried out by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
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A report into child protection in the MPS in 2016 found such serious failings that the Home Secretary commissioned a series of four reports, detailing improvements. This is the last of those reports.
HM Inspector of Constabulary for the Metropolitan Police Service Matt Parr said:
“I am aware that the Met has had to make drastic alterations in order to make the significant changes required. We found committed and dedicated officers and staff operating in an increasingly complex and demanding environment, investigating cases which are seldom straightforward. By and large, the force is moving in the right direction, and senior officers have demonstrated a strong commitment to protecting children.
“As a result, we found that the Met has made progress in a number of areas since our initial report in 2016, with new structures, training and oversight evident. However, many of these initiatives are too recent to have led to consistently improved outcomes for children. The force must maintain its momentum and focus on ensuring the changes it is making are leading to a better service for children in London.
“Over 2018, HMICFRS will continue to support and challenge the Met as it seeks to make these critical improvements.”
Positive improvements include:
- the appointment of a named officer lead for child protection;
- a team currently dedicated to checking regularly and reporting on the nature and quality of decision-making in child protection cases; and
- a system which briefs officers on registered sex offenders living in their areas.
However, when inspectors reviewed a sample of 214 child protection cases, almost 90 percent (191) were judged to be either ‘requiring improvement’ or ‘inadequate’. While HMICFRS acknowledges that the serious concerns identified in 2016 cannot be resolved at once, the force must ensure the changes it is making lead directly to improved outcomes for children in London.
Additionally, the report found that in some areas, the volume of work is contributing to delays in child protection investigations, exacerbated by a lack of effective supervision. This has led to inconsistencies in investigations and the absence of appropriate oversight.
HMICFRS will re-visit the Met’s progress at improving outcomes for children at least once in the next year, and seek demonstrable improvements in relation to frontline practice and outcomes and clear evidence of the effectiveness of the new safeguarding structures being implemented. We will also supplement this with tailored learning events and training development support, to help ensure focus is maintained.
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- Although the sample size in our case review for this follow-up is different to our initial 2016 inspection, we are still able to draw valid conclusions.
- 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 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’ press office can be contacted from 8:30am – 5:00pm Monday – Friday on 020 3513 0600.
- HMICFRS’ out-of-hours press office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217729.