Northamptonshire Police has made only “limited progress” in improving its child protection capabilities, warns report
Northamptonshire Police has not made necessary improvements to its child protection practice and procedure in the past 12 months, according to a new report.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) previously inspected the force’s child protection capabilities in March 2018, highlighting a range of problems.
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Today’s National Child Protection Post-Inspection Review of Northamptonshire Police, found that many of those problems had not yet been resolved. Particular problems identified in the 2019 report included:
- inconsistent supervision of investigations;
- ineffective partner organisations (for example, local authorities who are responsible for providing alternative accommodation);
- substantial delays and backlogs (for example, failing to record information about missing children promptly and a backlog in investigating electronic devices); and
- concerning decisions regarding the management of registered sex offenders (for example, sending warning letters to offenders who breach their conditions as a matter of course, without proper investigation of the causes of the breach).
HMICFRS examined 21 child protection case files as part of the inspection. None of these cases were assessed as ‘good’ by the Inspectorate (11 were rated as ‘inadequate’).
However, there have been some improvements since the previous inspection. There has been a “significant decrease” in the number of outstanding visits to registered sex offenders. The Inspectorate also found that Northamptonshire Police has improved its understanding of the reasons children go missing.
HM Inspector of Constabulary, Zoë Billingham, said:
“Child protection work is one of the most important duties of a police service. It is crucial that forces have in place adequate means of safeguarding and protecting vulnerable and at-risk children. Other partners, like local authorities also have a vital role to play in partnership with the police. It is notable that in the recent past other public agencies in Northamptonshire have been found to be failing the communities they serve.
“Our 2018 inspection should have been an urgent wake-up call. But too frequently Northamptonshire’s most vulnerable children are still being poorly served by those who should protect them.
“We are especially concerned to see a continuing problem with delays and backlogs, particularly with online investigations. We identified many of these issues during our previous inspection and so it is disappointing to see them still.
“The force is working hard to address a legacy of long term underfunding and some areas of improvement are evident. For example, since our last inspection, the force has made a real effort to raise awareness about child protection matters through an internal communications campaign. It is investing in increasing the number of police officers and staff working in the vitally important area of child protection. I hope to see further improvements in the near future.”
As a result of the inspection, HMICFRS has issued another list of recommendations for improvement. It will carry out a re-inspection of the force within the next 12 months.
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- HMICFRS is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing and fire and rescue services in the public interest. It assesses and reports on the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces and fire and rescue services.
- HMICFRS inspects all 45 fire and rescue services in England. It also inspects all 43 police forces in England and Wales together with other major policing and law enforcement bodies. It also publishes data and thematic reports on areas of particular interest.
- 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.
- 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.