#022/2013 – Child Protection: Northamptonshire Police responds to critical HMIC inspection but has more to do

A series of inspections by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has found that Northamptonshire Police has more progress to make before it can offer assurance that children at risk in the county are being adequately protected.

In January, as part of a pilot multi-agency inspection of child protection arrangements in Northamptonshire, the inspectorate found that Northamptonshire Police was not giving sufficient priority to the protection of children in the county. The pilot found that child protection arrangements in Northamptonshire were wholly inadequate.

A further inspection by HMIC in March found the force had developed a plan for how it would improve its approach to child protection. But, there were still concerns and HMIC considered that more progress should have been made.

The most recent revisit by HMIC in June found that the force had made extensive changes, investing significantly in child protection and developing a comprehensive plan designed to ensure the required improvements are made. However, HMIC concluded it is too early to say whether the force is doing enough to properly protect children at risk within the county.

The inspection in January identified that the force was not allocating enough resources to child protection, and staff had received insufficient training in how to safeguard children. HMIC found unacceptable delays in sharing information about children at risk with other agencies and that police officers were not recognising potential risk to children when they attended incidents. They were also failing to make referrals to either police child protection specialists or to other agencies such as children’s social care. HMIC immediately engaged with the force to establish what remedial action it would put in place to address the issues raised.

HMIC will continue to monitor the force and will carry out a full re-inspection of child protection arrangements in October 2013 to assess if the force has made improvements and if this can be sustained.

HM Inspector of Constabulary, Zoë Billingham, said:

“Our inspection in January found that Northamptonshire Police was not giving sufficient priority to the protection of children in the county. We found that child protection arrangements were wholly inadequate, and that children at risk within the county were not being properly protected by the police and other agencies. This is simply unacceptable.

“Following our initial inspection, the force recognised changes needed to be made and our revisit in March found they had developed a plan tackle the issue. The force has demonstrated it is taking child safeguarding seriously. But there is still much to do before it can offer assurance that children at risk are being adequately protected. We will return to the force in October to inspect what progress has been made.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

  1. A copy of the full report can be found at www.hmic.gov.uk
  2. In January 2013, HMIC was part of a multi-agency team who completed an inspection of child protection arrangements in Northamptonshire and specifically for HMIC an inspection of the child protection services provided by Northamptonshire Police. The other agencies involved in the inspection were the Care Quality Commission, Ofsted and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation. This was a pilot inspection, which aimed to help develop the methodology for a major, multi-agency child protection inspection programme which is due to start in 2014. Northamptonshire County Council, health service providers and probation services in the county were therefore also inspected at the same time. Northamptonshire volunteered to take part in this pilot.
  3. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (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.
  4. For further information, HMIC’s press office can be contacted during office hours from 8:30am – 5:30pm Monday – Friday on 0203 513 0600.
  5. HMIC’s out-of-hours press office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217 729.