South Wales Police carries out its duty to protect children well in a number of areas, however inspectors found concerning examples where its service fell short
HMIC has today published an inspection report into the child protection work carried out by South Wales Police, following an inspection carried out in late February/early March 2015. This is part of a rolling programme of child protection inspections of all police forces in England and Wales.
Get the report
Inspectors were pleased to find:
- a clear commitment to improving services for children in need of protection;
- staff responsible for managing child abuse investigations were highly committed, hard working, knowledgeable and dedicated to providing the best possible outcomes for children;
- officers responded quickly and undertook thorough initial enquires about the immediate safety of children;
- good management of registered sex offenders; and
- a strong commitment to working in partnership.
However, inspectors were concerned to find:
- a lack of understanding of the extent of child sexual exploitation and an inconsistent response across the force area;
- early intervention and long-term inter-agency planning for children who regularly go missing from home is often ineffective;
- children were being unnecessarily detained in police custody overnight.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Dru Sharpling said:
“South Wales Police is clearly committed to improving child protection services. We were pleased to find examples where the welfare of children had been of the utmost priority for officers. In cases where the concern was serious and immediately recognised as a child protection matter, the approach to the child or parents (or social worker when the parent was a suspect) was carefully considered, and the best ways to engage with the child were explored. This sensitive approach resulted in stronger relationships between the child and police.
“The force has recognised that its response to child sexual exploitation is underdeveloped and is taking steps to address this. Nevertheless, the force still has much more to do to understand the nature and extent of child sexual exploitation in the communities it serves. For example, we were concerned to find a particular case of a 15-year-old girl who was sexually exploited by men over a 4-year period. Despite over 40 child protection forms having been completed, there had been no investigation to identify the men and protect other children.
“The quality and timeliness of investigations also needs to be improved. We found examples of serious cases, such as rape and sexual assault that were dealt with by non-specialist officers. We also found a case concerning the rape of a 15-year-old girl by a pupil at her school, and although the initial response was good, the girl was not interviewed for five months.
“The force also needs to improve its awareness of the links between children going missing from home, and the risk of sexual exploitation.
“We have asked South Wales Police to provide us with an action plan within six weeks setting out how it will respond to our recommendations.”
Get the report
- HMIC 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, 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.
- In July 2015, HMIC 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.
- HMIC is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing in the public interest, and rigorously examines the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces to tackle crime and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise confidence. HMIC inspects all 43 police forces in England and Wales, together with other major policing bodies.
- For further information, HMIC’s press office can be contacted during office hours from 8:30am – 5:00pm Monday – Friday on 020 3513 0600.
- HMIC’s out-of-hours press office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217 729.