Room for improvement in Cleveland Police child protection, but progress is encouraging
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has found that while some improvements have been made to how Cleveland Police protects children, it needs to take further action (in some areas as a matter of urgency) to strengthen its safeguarding practice in order to protect adequately those children most at risk.
HMICFRS has today published the report of inspection carried out in May 2017 of the child protection work undertaken by Cleveland Police. These inspections are part of a rolling programme of child protection inspections of all police forces in England and Wales.
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Inspectors were pleased to find:
- the chief constable, his chief officer team and the police and crime commissioner all have a strong commitment to child protection;
- clear evidence of a considered and innovative approach to child protection; and
- Operation Encompass (where schools are informed of domestic abuse incidents at the home of a pupil and work with partners to provide support) is established practice within the force and has led to more timely and effective management of domestic abuse notifications from the force to the schools of affected children.
However, inspectors were concerned to find:
- the force’s response to those children reported missing requires immediate action. HMICFRS found a failure to properly assess risk or undertake prompt and effective enquiries to locate children;
- that the force needs to improve its approach to children detained in custody, who are often vulnerable and have complex needs; and
- that investigations often lacked evidence of supervision. This contributed to inconsistent outcomes for children.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Mike Cunningham said:
“Our inspection of Cleveland Police highlighted some innovative work the force is undertaking to protect children. I was particularly impressed by the clear commitment from both staff and the chief officer team to improving services for children.
“However, the force still needs to do more to ensure children receive the support and service they deserve. In a significant number of cases we looked at there was poor supervision and record-keeping.
“The force’s response to children who regularly go missing from home also requires improvement. I would like to see it focus on early intervention and ensuring that officers and staff understand the link between children who regularly go missing and their vulnerability to sexual exploitation.
“I would also like to see the force further improve the treatment of vulnerable children in custody. There has been some commendable work in this area, but this is at an early stage, and needs now to progress.”
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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.