HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS)
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Bedfordshire Police makes some improvements on child protection, but challenges remain

Whilst Bedfordshire Police has taken ‘tangible steps’ to improve its child protection capabilities, there are still several areas of concern, according to a report released today by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

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Bedfordshire Police – National child protection post inspection review

Whilst Bedfordshire Police has taken ‘tangible steps’ to improve its child protection capabilities, there are still several areas of concern, according to a report released today by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

As part of a rolling programme of child protection inspections of all police forces in England and Wales, HMICFRS assessed Bedfordshire Police in 2017. The Inspectorate found several problems with regards to the force’s approach to child protection issues, including with children at risk of sexual exploitation.

HMICFRS inspected the force again last year. The report released today, which details the results of that inspection, found ‘evidence of improvements being made and some innovative work taking place to improve the protection of children’. Specific improvements include:

  • enhanced training on child protection issues for officers and staff;
  • improved Force Contact Centre procedures for responding to missing children;
  • reviews of IT systems and other internal processes, in order to identify potential problems; and
  • upgraded information sharing practices and data.

Despite this, however, several issues remain. These include:

  • inaccurate and inconsistent information recorded on children’s custody records, as well as a general lack of understanding about police custody rules for children;
  • high workloads combined with low staffing levels;
  • delays in sending referrals to the relevant Local Authority; and
  • lack of police supervision in multi-agency safeguarding hubs.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said:

“Today’s report paints an improved but mixed picture of Bedfordshire Police’s child protection capabilities. There are still areas where problems remain and where we have not seen all the improvements that we had hoped for.

“As a result of our previous inspection in 2017, we gave the force several recommendations for improvement. Some of these have not been implemented, meaning that the force has only made limited progress in those areas. It is especially worrying that children most at risk, such as those being exploited sexually, are not being identified quickly enough.

“But it is important to recognise that the force has made progress. For example, our 2017 inspection found that the force was underprepared to deal with increased demand in relation to child protection incidents. Since then, it has increased its involvement with non-police staff and institutions, such as social workers and children’s homes, to help free up front-line resources to respond to that demand.

“This shows that the force is capable of finding long-term solutions to these issues. I look forward to seeing more of those solutions in due course.”

HMICFRS will continue to regularly monitor Bedfordshire Police’s child protection capabilities.

Get the report

Bedfordshire Police – National child protection post inspection review

Notes

  1. HMICFRS is inspecting the child protection work of every police force in England and Wales. The reports provide information for the police, the police and crime commissioner and the public on how well children are protected and their needs are met, and to secure improvements for the future.
  2. Under the National Child Protection Inspection (NCPI) programme, HMICFRS 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.
  3. In 2017, HMICFRS published a report into Bedfordshire Police’s child protection services which included a series of recommendations aimed at improving the service provided to children in the Bedfordshire area.
  4. Follow up activity by HMICFRS 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.
  5. On 19 July 2017, HMIC took on responsibility for fire & rescue service inspections and was renamed HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services.
  6. HMICFRS inspects all 43 police forces in England and Wales together with other major policing and law enforcement bodies. It also inspects all 45 fire and rescue services in England.
  7. For further information, HMICFRS’s press office can be contacted from 9:00am – 5:00pm Monday – Friday on 020 3513 0600.
  8. HMICFRS’s out-of-hours press office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217729.
  9. HMICFRS is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing and fire and rescue services in the public interest. It assesses and reports on the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces and fire and rescue services.

 

Channel website: https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmicfrs/

Original article link: https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmicfrs/news/news-feed/bedfordshire-police-makes-some-improvements-on-child-protection-but-challenges-remain/

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