Surrey Police has made good progress to improve how it protects vulnerable victims
In December 2015, Surrey Police was one of four forces HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) graded as inadequate at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm and supporting victims. HMIC had significant concerns about the capability and capacity of Surrey Police to safeguard vulnerable people and investigate crimes committed against them. We found serious weaknesses in the force’s arrangements for protecting vulnerable people from harm and for supporting victims.
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In April 2016, HMIC carried out an inspection revisit to examine whether the force has improved how it protects vulnerable victims.
During the revisit, HMIC found that the force:
- has made good progress to improve its child abuse investigations by allocating more staff to public protection roles and ensuring it has good governance and audit processes in place so staff have lower caseloads and better supervision;
- has improved how it deals with cases of child sexual exploitation and provided training to and raised awareness of all staff;
- has improved its missing person investigations with staff understanding the importance of assessing the risk thoroughly and taking appropriate safeguarding action, however further work is needed to understand the scale of the problem;
- does not monitor its compliance with the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime, and needs to ensure that victims are receiving the service they should expect in line with the requirements outlined within the Code; and
- has improved training so staff in the control room and contact centre now have a better understanding of how to assess risk.
HMI Zoë Billingham said:
“Our inspection in 2015 raised a number of concerns about how Surrey Police approached protecting vulnerable victims. I am pleased to say that since this inspection, Surrey Police has shown a very strong commitment to improving this vital area of policing. The force has accepted our recommendations and is acting on all of them.
“Surrey Police is making good progress in achieving the necessary improvements. HMIC has always said that the force is on a journey and although it is not there yet, the signs of improvement are evident and encouraging.
“The force has improved its missing person investigations; however more work is required if it is to fully understand the nature and scale of this issue across the county. Most staff now understand that assessing and dealing with vulnerable people, especially children, is a force priority.
“The force has worked hard to secure these improvements; we found strong leadership on the part of the chief officer team to refocus the force on protecting the most vulnerable and action has been taken to invest additional resources in specialist detectives. Thanks to additional training, officers and staff have a better understanding, so are better placed to take the right action to protect the most vulnerable members of the community.
“There are undoubtedly areas that need further work. The force recognises this and I am pleased to see that there are plans in place designed to secure further improvements. During the revisit, we were told about several new initiatives that had started or were about to start. The force needs to ensure that it achieves these in order to continue to improve the service it provides to vulnerable victims. We look forward to seeing further progress during our effectiveness inspection in autumn 2016.”
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- 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.
- Based on a mix of analysis, fieldwork and reality testing, the initial inspection in 2015 graded every force’s performance against the overall question, ‘How effective is the force at protecting from harm those who are vulnerable and supporting victims?’
- In 2015, HMIC looked at how well forces respond to and safeguard specific vulnerable groups (missing and absent children & victims of domestic abuse); and how well prepared forces are to tackle child sexual exploitation.
- In 2015, HMIC judged how effective forces were at protecting vulnerable people. 12 forces were judged to be ‘good’, 27 forces to ‘require improvement’ and 4 forces to be ‘inadequate’.
- The inspection included an assessment of the force’s progress in tackling and preventing domestic abuse in the 18 months since the publication of HMIC’s report Everyone’s Business in March 2014.
- The four forces HMIC judged in 2015 to be inadequate were: Bedfordshire Police, Essex Police, Staffordshire Police and Surrey Police. Because of this grading, all four forces were subjected to revisit inspections by HMIC.
- 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.