National Child Protection Inspection Programme - Child protection inspection methodology

Published on: 21 July 2020

Publication types: Child protection


The objectives of the inspection are:

  • to assess how effectively police forces safeguard children at risk;
  • to make recommendations to police forces for improving child protection practice;
  • to highlight effective practice in child protection work; and
  • to drive improvements in forces’ child protection practices.

The expectations of agencies are set out in the statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children: a guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children (PDF document) , the latest version of which was published in July 2018. The specific police roles set out in the guidance are:

  • the identification of children who might be at risk from abuse and neglect;
  • investigation of alleged offences against children;
  • inter-agency working and information-sharing to protect children; and
  • the exercise of emergency powers to protect children.

These areas of practice are the focus of the inspection.

Inspection approach

Inspections focused on the experience of, and outcomes for, the child following its journey through child protection and criminal investigation processes. They assessed how well the service has helped and protected children and investigated alleged criminal acts, taking account of, but not measuring compliance with, policies and guidance.

The inspections considered how the arrangements for protecting children, and the leadership and management of the police service, contributed to and supported effective practice on the ground. The team considered how well management responsibilities for child protection, as set out in the statutory guidance, were met.


  • Self-assessment – practice, and management and leadership.
  • Case inspections.
  • Discussions with staff from within the police and from other agencies.
  • Examination of reports on significant case reviews or other serious cases.
  • Examination of service statistics, reports, policies and other relevant written materials.

The purpose of the self-assessment is to:

  • raise awareness within the service about the strengths and weaknesses of current practice (this formed the basis for discussions with HMICFRS); and
  • serve as a driver and benchmark for future service improvements.

Self-assessment and case inspection

In consultation with police services the following areas of practice have been identified for scrutiny:

  • domestic abuse;
  • incidents where police officers and staff identify children in need of help and protection, e.g. children being neglected;
  • information-sharing and discussions regarding children potentially at risk of harm;
  • the exercising of powers of police protection under section 46 of the Children Act 1989 (taking children into a ‘place of safety’);
  • the completion of Section 47 Children Act 1989 enquiries, including both those of a criminal nature and those of a non-criminal nature (Section 47 enquiries are those relating to a ‘child at risk’);
  • sex offender management;
  • the management of missing children;
  • child sexual exploitation; and
  • the detention of children in police custody.