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  Response to HMIC National Child Protection Inspections Report

In July 2016, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) inspected Cumbria Constabulary on their child protection work as part of an inspection programme for every police force in England and Wales.

The Inspection focused on how well children are protected, improving child protection practices and how effective the Constabulary is in safeguarding children at risk.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall said: “The Constabulary was inspected by HMIC in July 2016 as part of the National Child Protection Inspections.  The inspection report highlighted some important recognition of officers responding quickly to clear and specific concerns about the immediate safety of children and how the Constabulary had improved its response to domestic abuse cases ensuring the safety of children. 

“HMIC have also identified areas where the Constabulary still needs to improve performance.  I know that the Chief Constable has driven significant improvements since July 2016 to deliver training to improve how officers deal with child sexual exploitation and domestic abuse, allow access to the relevant ICT systems to improve the risk assessment process and independent ‘quality assurance’ processes for children missing from home, child and domestic abuse cases. 

“I will be monitoring progress on this closely.  Child safety is a complex area involving many other agencies and it is essential that procedures meet the highest standards and I expect the force to continue to develop and improve in this respect.

“As the HMIC PEEL assessment in December 2016 stated that Cumbria Constabulary has effective leadership this professional assurance from HMIC gives me the confidence that the Chief Constable and his team can deliver the improvements required.

"The Constabulary will in the next six weeks be reporting to me and to the HMIC with an update on the detailed action being taken to respond to the recommendations.   Followed by a further visit from HMIC in the next six months to assess how the Constabulary is managing the implementation of the recommendations.  I will be asking the HMIC to share their observations to monitor progress in the progress being made at the earliest point.

“As Police and Crime Commissioner my aim is that all children in Cumbria should grow up in a safe environment, cared for and protected from harm.   Safeguarding is everybody’s responsibility and it is essential that the police, partners and the public get it right first time.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Andrew Slattery said:  “We welcome the findings of HMIC’s inspection into the Constabulary’s child protection measures and how effectively we safeguard children across Cumbria.

"The protection of children is one of the Constabulary’s key priorities in which we have invested a large number of resources.  The inspection highlights a number of areas which require improvement and I am pleased to say this work is underway or has already been completed.

“Although the inspectors recognise the high quality of work done by our specialist teams, we recognise the need to continually raise awareness and educate all our staff in how to better safeguard children, whatever their role.

“The Constabulary has revised its procedures concerning domestic violence, child sexual exploitation and missing person investigations in order to improve and ensure that action is taken where possible to protect any child affected by that incident. There is an increased amount of initial supervision on these crimes which are independently reviewed by a the Constabulary’s Business Improvement Unit. This ensures that signs of abuse to children are not missed and that officers investigating these crimes receive feedback in order to offer continuous development.

“The protection of children in Cumbria is not just a matter for the police service but one for a number of our partner agencies who we work closely with. This year we have increased our resources that work within the multi-agency safeguarding hub in order to provide the best protection possible.

“HMIC recognised the positive work that is ongoing throughout the Constabulary. One of the areas that they commented on was the introduction of our Digital Media Investigation Unit (DMIU) which undertakes a number of major investigations into people who target and abuse children online. The work that the DMIU has conducted has already a seen a number of offenders brought to justice.

“The Constabulary was also recognised for how we deal with young people who are detained. We work closely with our partner agencies in order to ensure that juveniles are not unnecessarily detained in custody and we work hard to prevent reoffending by offering alternatives to criminal prosecution, such as restorative justice.

“The Constabulary will continue to review how we protect children in order to further improve our safeguarding of children.”