Inspectors raise concern over Warwickshire Police’s ‘inconsistent’ responses to reports of missing children - The Rugby Observer

Inspectors raise concern over Warwickshire Police’s ‘inconsistent’ responses to reports of missing children

Rugby Editorial 7th Jun, 2023   0

WARWICKSHIRE Police is inconsistent in its responses to reports of missing children, and keeps arrested children at police stations after charge when it shouldn’t, according to a new report.

The force’s child protection practice was assessed as ‘inadequate’ or ‘requiring improvement’ in nearly three quarters of cases involving children at risk audited by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

In a post-inspection review of the force’s child protection services which took place in February, inspectors audited 34 cases in which children were at risk, rating practice as ‘inadequate’ in 10 cases and ‘requiring improvement’ in 15.

The review follows up on a 2022 inspection which highlighted ‘inconsistent practices and decision-making’ in the force’s responses to children who need help and protection.

The new review found the force’s response when children are reported missing was still inconsistent, and didn’t focus well enough on children’s welfare when they were arrested.

Inspectors highlighted a ‘poor response’ by the force into a report of a 13-year-old boy who had gone missing.

No enquiries were conducted to find him, and he was graded as at medium risk despite information about his mental ill health and his research into trains to places he had no connection with.

After the boy was found, police did not submit a child risk assessment form to share information with children’s social care services.

However, the review found the force had improved in many areas since the 2022 inspection, including investigating online child sexual abuse and exploitation; managing registered sex offenders; sharing information with statutory safeguarding partners about risks to children; and the use and recording of police protection powers.

Inspectors said: “Warwickshire Police has committed considerable time, resources and energy to improving outcomes for children. It has markedly increased the number of investigators dealing with child abuse investigations.

“The force has also provided training to help officers and staff make better decisions. It has reviewed the diary appointment system to make sure children are properly safeguarded.

“It has changed daily management meetings to focus on child protection. These meetings now give better oversight of cases where children are missing, in police protection, or in custody. The force has also introduced better processes for oversight.”

Det Supt Pete Hill said the force had previously developed a ‘robust action plan’ to address the areas for improvement identified in 2022, much of which was already being implemented.

He added: “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.

“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.

“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 ensure children within Warwickshire remain protected from harm.”

Visit for more information on recognising and reporting concerns about child exploitation and abuse.


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