Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has today published a post inspection review on child protection work carried out by West Yorkshire Police.
HMIC were keen to point out that although West Yorkshire police had made improvements, there were still many areas for concern.
One of the main issues raised was that children continued to be delayed unnecessarily in police custody.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Mike Cunningham said: “the force needs to improve its understanding of why it detains children in custody. Although there were some good practice in this area, five of the seven cases inspectors looked at, where a child was detained in custody, were judged to require improvement.”
Stricter regulations concerning child protection and welfare came about after a post inspection review in 2015 revealed that there were “some areas that the force just isn’t getting right,” Cunningham said.
In 2014 the Centre for Social Justice filed a report carrying the testimony of 50 child protection experts from across the country, as well as 20 children who were “abhorrently failed” by social services in London. Stronger guidelines and precautions have since been set into place by the force.
“In 2014 HMIC recommended the force improve how frontline officers record child protection issues,” Cunningham explained.
However the force, as according to Cunningham has made no progress against this recommendation.
“As a result, officers are still failing to properly record concerns about children and refer cases to social services where necessary.”
Child protection and welfare concerns have been raised in the media after the Dame Janet Smith report was published on 26 February 2016. The report reveals the sexual abuse of children by former BBC 1 Radio presenter Jimmy Saville. A total of 72 victims were identified in the review, including eight who were raped. The BBC will carry out further investigations of child protection policies as a result.
In 2014 North Yorkshire Police apologised for missing several opportunities to prosecute Saville over claims of child abuse in Scarborough.
HMIC Inspector Mike Cunningham was keen to highlight that “there has been an increase in the number of officers in public protection units, and the force has established specialist teams to tackle child sexual exploitation.”
HMIC is currently inspecting the child protection work of every police force in England and Wales.