Force comment following national child protection inspection post-inspection review
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In February 2023 Warwickshire Police underwent a child protection re-inspection by HMICFRS.
In the report the inspectors found the force had committed considerable time, resources and energy to improving outcomes for children and making changes in line with their recommendations.
There have been improvements in many areas - particularly taking prompt action when investigating online child sexual abuse and exploitation; managing registered sex offenders and sharing information with frontline staff and statutory safeguarding partners about risks to children; and the use and recording of police protection powers.
Two areas were highlighted as requiring improvement – these were around the force’s response when children are reported missing, and focus more on children’s welfare when they are arrested.
In light of the publication of the report, Detective Superintendent Pete Hill said: "We are pleased the inspection recognised much of the good work already going on in Warwickshire and the report acknowledges our commitment to child protection and to improving our services for vulnerable children.
“We had previously developed a robust action plan to address the areas for improvement around outcomes for children identified by the inspectors and many of these have already begun to be implemented by the force.
“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 we have increased staffing levels to allow for greater focus on trafficking and exploitation of children as well as the number of investigators dealing with child abuse investigations.
“We recognise the opportunity we have through the scale of new officer recruitment 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.
“We have provided specialist training to support the officers and staff involved in child abuse investigations as well as those working within our operational command centre (OCC) with a number of guidance documents and videos helping to raise awareness of a variety of child protection issues.
“We were pleased the inspectors had 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, but acknowledged there was more to be done to improve consistent decision-making on risks, and the quality of our missing person investigations.
“As part of this, we have changed the process around daily management meetings to focus on child protection to make sure there is better oversight of cases where children are missing, in police protection, or in custody.
"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 never complacent, we know there is always more the police can do to improve the outcomes for children, 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 from harm in the future.”