West Midlands Police inspected on child protection
HMIC has today published an inspection report into the child protection work carried out by West Midlands Police, following an inspection in June 2014. This is part of a rolling programme of child protection inspections of all police forces in England and Wales.
Get the report
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:
- a strong commitment from the leadership team to child protection, with a clear plan for developing their child protection services;
- staff responsible for managing child abuse investigations were knowledgeable, committed and dedicated to providing good outcomes for children;
- the force has developed good relationships with partner agencies and local safeguarding children boards; and
- the force has introduced a series of mandatory training packages for officers and staff, which includes child protection and child sexual exploitation, honour-based violence and female genital mutilation.
However, inspectors were concerned to find:
- a weak response to difficult, complex or prolonged child protection cases;
- that heavy workloads meant staff in child abuse investigation teams were unable to manage their investigations effectively;
- a general lack of understanding of the extent of child sexual exploitation and inconsistent practice across the force area;
- that officers did not always understand when to refer child protection issues to other agencies or how to do it; and
- children were being unnecessarily detained in police custody overnight.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Dru Sharpling said:
“I am pleased to see the clear commitment to protecting children shown by both the leaders and the dedicated staff within West Midlands Police.
“Despite this, our inspection found areas of concern that meant children were not receiving the service they deserve. In particular the force needs to improve both its approach to the more complex child protection cases and a better understanding of the extent of child sexual exploitation in the West Midlands.
“I would like to encourage West Midlands Police to address our concerns immediately, and have asked that within six weeks it provides us with an action plan to demonstrate how it will act upon these 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.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmicfrs from 00.01 Tuesday 28 October 2014.
- 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