South Yorkshire Police inspected on child protection
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has today published an inspection report into the child protection work carried out by South Yorkshire Police, following an inspection in May 2014. This is part of a rolling programme of child protection inspections of all police forces in England and Wales.
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Protecting children is one of the most important tasks the police undertake. Only the police can investigate suspected crimes, arrest perpetrators and monitor sex offenders. Police officers have the power to take a child who is in danger into a place of safety, or to seek an order to restrict an offender’s contact with children. The police service also has a significant role working with other agencies to ensure the child’s protection and well-being, longer term.
Inspectors were pleased to find:
- South Yorkshire Police has a clear set of priorities to protect children and has made progress to improve services;
- there has been a significant increase in capacity in child protection teams and additional training for specialist roles;
- most staff were well trained for their roles and committed to protecting children; briefings had been delivered to a wide range of personnel to raise awareness of child protection; and
- the force had good relationships with partner agencies and local safeguarding children’s boards. Professionals from different agencies were working together in co-located teams and this was paying dividends.
However, inspectors were concerned to find:
- for the most part, the force responded well when the case clearly identified a child in need of protection, but in difficult or complex cases the response was weak;
- there were shortcomings in police performance in Doncaster in the protection of children in care homes with limited understanding of the risk posed by offenders who target vulnerable children;
- the police response to child sexual exploitation was inconsistent across the force area. Inspectors saw some good practice, but the police response needed to improve in Barnsley and Doncaster. Inspectors found some individual cases of concern; and
- children were being unnecessarily detained in police custody overnight.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Dru Sharpling said:
“South Yorkshire Police is clearly prioritising child protection, and has made some good progress, particularly in cases where concerns about children have been clearly identified at the outset.
“We are concerned that force practice is inconsistent so not all children receive the standard of treatment they deserve. More must be done to improve the care of children in custody. We were also concerned about the lack of understanding of the risk posed by offenders who target vulnerable children, and shortcomings in the protection of children in care.
“We encourage South Yorkshire Police to address our concerns as a matter of urgency, and have asked that within six weeks it provides us with a plan on how it intends to act on our recommendations.”
Over the next two years 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.
Get the report
- 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.
- A copy of the full report can be found at www.hmic.gov.uk
- 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