West Mercia Police has made improvements to how it protects children. However, it is still not performing well in some areas
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has today published a post-inspection review on the child protection work carried out by West Mercia 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 February 2015 on the child protection work of West Mercia Police. This found a clear commitment to protecting children but also identified a need to drive consistently high standards across the force and to tackle a number of areas of concern, including delays in the investigation of a number of child protection cases. HMIC carried out a post inspection review in August 2015.
Inspectors were pleased to find:
- a clear focus on improving outcomes for children who need protecting from harm;
- the force had increased the number of officers and staff in specialist child protection teams;
- improvements in the way the force investigated and managed child sexual exploitation cases, although there is still more to do; and
- the force had successfully cleared the backlog of work for assessing children at risk of harm.
However, inspectors were concerned to find:
- referrals sent to partner agencies lacked detail and did not always take account of the full range of relevant information about children;
- joint planning of investigations with other agencies was not fully effective because recording of plans was often poor, so that it was unclear what action was needed or being taken to protect children;
- significant delays in the examination of computers and electronic devices continued to undermine investigations; and
- children were still being unnecessarily detained in police custody.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams said:
“Since our initial inspection in to how West Mercia Police protects children, there have been some clear improvements in a number of important areas. The force has a clear focus on ensuring child protection is a priority for the force, reflected in the increase in officers and staff in specialist child protection teams. The force has also cleared a large backlog of work that was of concern to HMIC previously, which is to be commended.
“As child protection is such an important area to get right, there are still areas where we would like to see the force improve. It needs to improve the time it takes to examine computer and electronic devices, as the current delays undermine ongoing investigations. It also needs to improve how it works with partner agencies, to provide a coherent service to children at risk.
“I would like to see improvements made in the areas HMIC has identified. We will continue to monitor how West Mercia Police performs.”
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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.