Response to inspection of Warwickshire Police's child protection services
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In response to the HMICFRS report on its inspection of Warwickshire Police child protection services, Assistant Chief Constable Ben Smith says:
"We are pleased the inspection recognised much of the good work already going on in Warwickshire and that the report acknowledges our commitment to child protection and to improving our services for vulnerable children.
“As we expected, the report has made a number of recommendations for improvement of outcomes for children. Many of these had previously been identified by the force and we have already developed a robust action plan to address the areas identified by the inspectors.
“We have increased the number of resources within the Online Child Sexual Exploitation Team (OCSET) to enable us to deal with the increase in online offending that we and many forces across the country are experiencing.
“The force has also invested significant resources in establishing dedicated chid protection teams across the county such as our Child Abuse, Trafficking and Exploitation (CATE) team. The creation of these specialist teams has no doubt improved the quality of the most serious child protection investigations. We recognise demand in CATE has been challenging, which is why through our Empower organisational change plan we intend to increase staffing levels to allow for greater focus on trafficking and exploitation of children.
“We recognise the opportunity we have through the scale of new officer recruitment in the last year, and are working hard to ensure new recruits receive additional training so that, as a force, we have the right numbers of staff with the right skills to be able to carry out their roles effectively.
“While we are pleased that the inspectors commented positively on how effectively we work with partners to keep children safe and on how effectively we use governance and scrutiny to improve our services, we acknowledge that there is more that we need to do to improve consistent decision-making on risks, and the quality of our missing person investigations. We have already started work to address these areas.
"We all have a role to play in tackling child abuse and exploitation. We urge the public to be aware of the signs and raise any concerns they have. We are committed to investigating the reports you make, protecting victims and bringing offenders to justice. Child abusers prey on some of the most vulnerable members of our community and we want to ensure they have no place to hide in Warwickshire.
“You can find more information on recognising and reporting concerns here.
“We are confident we will take the learning from the latest report and use it effectively to continue to raise awareness among our workforce so we can do everything we can to ensure children within Warwickshire remain protected in the future.”