OPCC response to HMIC Child Protection Report
We welcome the report published by HMIC today and especially the report findings that indicate the clear commitment to provide a consistent and high standard of support to children in need of protection both in terms of leadership within the force and also in terms of the response provided by staff and officers.
We are particularly pleased that the report reflects our view that the police are working hard to address recognised issues and concerns.
Priority areas of concern highlighted in the HMIC Child Protection report include staff awareness and practice in cases of children who go missing from home and the consistency of child sexual exploitation investigations. We are working closely with police and other partners to ensure an effective response to these issues. In particular we are pleased to report the recruitment of additional posts dedicated to the investigation of child sexual exploitation and a stronger stance taken with children who regularly go missing from home.
Other concerns include the use and recording of police information to support risk assessment, the consistency of child protection investigations and the number of children subject to detention. This office has provided an investment to assist with identifying new opportunities to share intelligence which aims to improve the availability of information to support effective decision making.
A backlog in lower priority cases referred to the high-tech crime unit is also highlighted.
This office undertook a deep dive performance review of Child Protection shortly after the HMIC inspection of the issue. The meeting highlighted the same issues raised in the current report and provided reassurance that the police had plans in place to ensure that these concerns are addressed effectively. The police presented ongoing work to address many of these issues within Devon & Cornwall. In particular the roll out of extensive changes to the way that safeguarding needs are risk assessed and delivered that will address many of these concerns. This office will be monitoring the impact of this review on the effectiveness of the police response to child protection.
We will be asking the Chief Constable to provide a formal response to Mr Hogg, outlining what progress has been made and identifying additional work that remains to be carried out.
We must note our concern regarding the scope of the inspection programme. Effective Child Protection cannot be delivered in a police vacuum but instead is highly dependent on services provided by partner agencies. A more effective assessment of the protection of children in Devon & Cornwall would be provided through a multi-agency inspection programme.