Posted: Thu 30th Jun 2016

South Wales Police: Child Protection HMIC Inspection Report /
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Jun 30th, 2016

South Wales Police has invested significant time and resources in improving its response to Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), according to a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

This action has led to children being protected and safeguarded at an earlier stage than would otherwise have been the case. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The report also says that South Wales Police has reviewed its governance and performance management structures and improved its oversight and quality assurance of CSE and child abuse investigations. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Also highlighted was an initiative by the South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner and Barnados Cymru to introduce child advocates who work with officers to tackle child sexual exploitation. The advocates are experienced in communicating with young people in a sensitive manner that encourages them to share what’s going on in their lives. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

HM Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams said: “It is clear from our follow-up inspection that South Wales Police understands the improvements it needs to make in order to improve its children services. The senior leadership has made improving these services a priority, and the introduction of child advocates is evidence of that commitment, however there is still work to be done. I was pleased to see that the force has improved the standard of its child protection investigations, however it needs to reduce delays in obtaining specialist support. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“The main area for improvement is the reduction in unnecessarily detaining children. We recognise that the force needs to work with local authorities to achieve this result and the force has already demonstrated positive examples of joint working in other areas, which needs to be replicated here.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Following on from a report in 2015, inspectors continued to find cases where risk was not identified and escalated appropriately or at the earliest opportunity and were concerned that too many children are being detained unnecessarily in police custody. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael said: “It is pleasing to see the report reflect the commitment from the Chief Constable and myself to continue to improve the way we and our partners protect children. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“I am particularly pleased that our child advocate partnership with Barnados Cymru has been recognised. It allows us to reach out to vulnerable children who are at risk of going missing and becoming a victim of child sexual exploitation. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“We recognise that we have more work to do internally and with local authorities and partners to ensure that there is adequate provision to protect vulnerable children, identify those who are at risk when they go missing from home or care and intervene at an earlier stage. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“We need the support of our partners to prevent vulnerable young people ending up in police custody and being unnecessarily detained as this is an outcome which rarely serves the best interests of children.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

South Wales Police Assistant Chief Constable Jon Drake said: “We are pleased that today’s follow-up report has recognised the considerable amount of progress we continue to make in this important area of policing. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“The establishment of referral units and the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) has assisted in the early stages of assessment and safeguarding of children at risk of harm and the introduction of CSE advocates and investigation teams is improving identification of risk and the support of children. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“Officers responsible for undertaking child abuse investigations are committed and dedicated to helping children who are at risk and the time and resources which we have invested into child sexual exploitation and missing children investigations has delivered real improvements.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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