Northumbria Police has taken important steps to improve its child protection capabilities, but inconsistencies remain
Northumbria Police has made good progress in improving its approach to child protection issues, but still has work to do, according to a report released today by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
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As part of a rolling programme of child protection inspections of all police forces in England and Wales, HMICFRS assessed Northumbria Police in 2018. That inspection found that, whilst the force displayed a strong commitment to child protection, there were several areas where performance was substandard. HMICFRS made recommendations for the force to address.
Today’s report details the findings of a follow-up inspection, which took place in January 2019. The Inspectorate found that there is a ‘continuing commitment’ amongst officers and staff with regards to their child protection responsibilities. The force has also made some specific improvements against the 2018 recommendations, particularly in relation to missing children.
Other improvements include:
- the development of proposals for a consistent approach to safeguarding children with key partners area;
- additional training for staff to enable them to recognise and respond to risk more effectively;
- a new initiative to share information with schools about children who go missing;
- a project which focuses on the impact of domestic abuse on children; and
- refreshed governance and oversight procedures.
Despite these improvements, however, the inspection found that there are still areas of concern. These include the current IT system which continues to hinder the visibility of information, inadequacies in the risk assessment of some children’s cases, delays in the examination of digital devices and a disparity between investigations into online child sexual exploitation and those cases that did not involve the internet.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Phil Gormley said:
“We previously inspected Northumbria Police’s child protection services in January 2018. As a result of that inspection, we identified several areas where the force was not reaching the standards required of it. We issued the force with several recommendations in order to improve.
“I am encouraged to see that there has been progress made against those recommendations, particularly in relation to protecting children at risk of harm.
“We were pleased to find that the quality of investigations of child sexual exploitation cases that did not involve the internet have improved. However, I am concerned about the delays in responding to reports of children being exploited online, and the backlog in completing digital forensic examinations, some of which are taking too long to complete.
“I am encouraged by the force’s commitment to protecting children from harm. I look forward to seeing further improvements implemented in due course.”
HMICFRS will continue to regularly monitor Northumbria Police’s child protection capabilities.
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- HMICFRS is inspecting the child protection work of every police force in England and Wales. The reports 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 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’s press office can be contacted from 9:00am – 5:00pm Monday – Friday on 020 3513 0600.
- HMICFRS’s out-of-hours press office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217729.
- 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.