West Midlands Police is making progress on how it protects children, but there are still areas for improvement
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has today published a follow up inspection report on the child protection work carried out by West Midlands 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 October 2014 on the child protection work of West Midlands 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.
Inspectors carried out a follow up inspection in July 2015, and were pleased to find:
- a clear commitment to improving services for children in need of protection;
- the force had significantly increased the number of officers and staff in the public protection units;
- officers responded quickly and undertook thorough initial enquires about the immediate safety of children; and
- good relationships with local authorities and other partner agencies, and full engagement with the work to develop better provision for children with mental health issues.
However, inspectors were concerned to find:
- that despite improvements being made the recognition of children at risk of sexual exploitation remained inconsistent across the force area;
- significant delays in the examination of computers and electronic devices continued to undermine investigations;
- the safeguarding planning for a child or children at risk from registered sex offenders was often of a poor standard; and
- children were still being unnecessarily detained in police custody overnight.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams said:
“It is clear from this follow up inspection that West Midlands Police has made progress in particular areas since our initial inspection. We were encouraged to find a clear commitment to improving child protections services, which is reflected in the significant increase in officers and staff in public protection units. We also found good examples of investigations by the force, particularly when children were identified as being at further risk of immediate harm.
“Despite these encouraging signs, there is still work the force needs to do to improve as child sexual exploitation is still dealt with inconsistently across the force area, although the situation is getting better. The response to children who regularly go missing from home also requires further improvement, although inspectors were pleased to see that in most cases officers and staff understood the link between children who regularly go missing and sexual exploitation.
“We have asked West Midlands Police to provide us with an updated action plan, to see how it will incorporate the findings in our report into the work it is already doing. Depending on its response, HMIC may revisit the force again.”
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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 NCP 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.