South Wales Police has improved how it protects children, however there are still some areas that need further attention - HMIC
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has today published a post-inspection review on the child protection work carried out by South Wales Police.
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As part of a rolling programme of child protection inspections of all police forces in England and Wales, HMIC published an initial report in July 2015, on the child protection work of South Wales Police. This found that, despite a clear commitment to protecting children, there were areas of concern that meant children were not receiving the service they deserve.
HMIC carried out a post-inspection review in February 2016, and was pleased to find:
- some improvement in the quality of the force’s child sexual exploitation (CSE) investigations and in those child protection investigations that it allocates to non-specialist teams;
- the development of a regular review process to audit the quality and timeliness of decision-making in child protection investigations;
- the force had taken steps to improve its response to children who go missing from home; and
- the introduction of four child advocates across the force area to carry out early engagement and intervention work with children identified as being at risk from sexual exploitation. Although at an early stage of implementation, inspectors considered this to be innovative and effective practice.
However, inspectors were concerned to find:
- unnecessary delays in some cases in obtaining specialist support for children who are at particular risk of harm;
- too many children were still being detained unnecessarily in police custody; and
- in some cases where children had gone missing from home, clear CSE risks were not identified at the earliest opportunity.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams said:
“It is clear from our follow-up inspection that South Wales Police understands the improvements it needs to make in order to improve its children services. The senior leadership has made improving these services a priority, and the introduction of child advocates is evidence of that commitment, however there is still work to be done. I was pleased to see that the force has improved the standard of its child protection investigations, however it needs to reduce delays in obtaining specialist support.
“The main area for improvement is the reduction in unnecessarily detaining children. We recognise that the force needs to work with local authorities to achieve this result and the force has already demonstrated positive examples of joint working in other areas, which needs to be replicated here.”
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- Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (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 (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, 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.
- Follow up activity by HMIC 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. HMIC aims to revisit each force no later than six months after the publication of the initial NCPI inspection report to assess how it is managing the implementation of the recommendations.
- 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.