Wiltshire Police responds to National Child Protection Inspection
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Today (August 5), a report has been published following an inspection into our child protection arrangements.
The National Child Protection Inspection, undertaken by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), examined how effective our decisions and processes were at each stage of our interactions with children.
Although the inspection found several aspects of effective practice, it has concluded that we need to make some fundamental changes in order to improve some areas of our child protection practices.
In response to this, we have already developed a comprehensive plan to address the recommendations that have been made and this work will be overseen by a dedicated newly appointed Chief Inspector. One immediate change we have made is to post additional detectives into our Child Abuse Investigation Teams to further improve our service.
Assistant Chief Constable Deb Smith, the Force’s senior lead on vulnerability, said: “Protecting children is one of the most important things that we do and every child should grow up protected from harm.
“We take our responsibility to safeguard those most vulnerable in our communities incredibly seriously and we expect to be rightly scrutinised for how we do this.
“We acknowledge the findings of this inspection and accept the recommendations outlined in this report.
“However, it is important to state that many of the areas of concern raised within this report are aligned to those outlined in our recent HMICFRS PEEL inspection, which concluded less than a month prior to this inspection.
“We have, therefore, already taken prompt and comprehensive action to address a number of issues raised within the report. This includes us establishing a dedicated taskforce focusing on re-setting and improving basic investigative standards to improve our service and deliver improved justice outcomes.
“We’ve also focused on delivering enhanced training to our front line officers, our call centre staff and their supervisors, specifically on identifying vulnerability and risk.
“The Chief Constable has been clear that improving service delivery is his highest priority and that we will be relentless in our focus on accelerating our work to do what is needed to improve our service.”
The inspection found a number of effective areas of practice within our approach to child protection, including;
Clear prioritisation of child abuse investigations and improvements to the way we investigate online sexual abuse of children. This has resulted in a significant reduction of cases being managed by the Child Internet Exploitation Team (CIET) due to increasing staffing and additional training
Officers always taking children to appropriate places of safety – no incidents were found of officers taking children into police stations
Acting quickly to arrest offenders, seize digital evidence, and protect children
Having a good multi-agency approach to early intervention and crime prevention
Having good partnership working in terms of engaging with and contributing to statutory partnerships to provide multi-agency governance to safeguard children
Having good facilities for interviewing children and vulnerable witnesses
Child Abuse Investigation Team (CAIT) officers having a good relationship with crown prosecutors and being highly committed and passionate about their work
Good early communication between frontline officers at incidents, and officers make timely referrals to Children’s Social Care - in every case reviewed, there were records of prompt and effective liaison with emergency duty social workers to reduce delays in jointly safeguarding the children.
ACC Smith added: “The accelerated improvement work we are currently undertaking will be evidenced in the action plan we will now develop and provide to HMICFRS prior to their return visit to Wiltshire within six months.
“As we said following the publication of our HMICFRS PEEL inspection report last month, we accept that we have work to do in order to build upon and maintain the trust and confidence our communities have in us.
“We will be focused in ensuring we achieve this so that we can ensure we provide the service the public expect and deserve.”
You can read more of our response to the earlier HMICFRS PEEL inspection here.