Norfolk Constabulary inspected on child protection

The first of a series of inspection reports into child protection has been published today by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary. The inspection examined child protection in Norfolk Constabulary in April 2014. It is the first in a rolling programme of inspections of all police forces in England and Wales.

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Read Norfolk – national child protection inspection

Protecting children is one of the most important tasks the police undertake. Only the police can investigate suspected crimes, arrest perpetrators and monitor sex offenders. 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 also has a significant role working with other agencies to ensure the child’s protection and well-being, longer term.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • Norfolk Constabulary has a strong commitment to child protection with a clear set of priorities and plans that support it, and strong leadership;
  • there was much good practice: when a concern for a child or an incident was identified from the outset as a child protection matter, the police response was invariably good;
  • efforts have been made to improve the ability of those police officers and staff most likely to have significant contact with children to recognise that children may be at risk; and
  • there is good inter-agency working: the constabulary was viewed by partners as influential, open, forward thinking and an organisation that is striving to learn and improve for the benefit of children.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • the constabulary did not always do enough to assess the risk suspects could pose to other vulnerable people, particularly in cases of child sexual exploitation;
  • practice was inconsistent in relation to children involved in long-term and high-risk domestic abuse incidents; and
  • officers attending an incident do not always have access to information about the possible presence of registered sex offenders or families ‘at risk’, or of any plans in place to manage risk and safeguard children.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Dru Sharpling said:

“Norfolk Constabulary is strongly committed to protecting children in the county from abuse and violence. This can be attributed to the strong leadership we found and the relationships the constabulary has with other agencies.

“There are, however, some areas in which the constabulary could improve and we have made a series of recommendations. I am asking Norfolk Constabulary to update me on progress against those recommendations, and to provide an action plan, within six weeks.”

Over the next two years HMIC 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.

Get the report

Read Norfolk – national child protection inspection