The National Child Protection Inspection of North Yorkshire Police has found that they need to do more to protect young people.
Extracts from the report:
- The force’s child protection arrangements aren’t consistently providing either the quality of service or a good enough response to effectively safeguard children in North Yorkshire.
- The standard of investigations in child protection cases, such as missing children or child sexual exploitation (CSE), is poor.
- The force doesn’t prioritise safeguarding and child protection highly enough in operational activity.
- Staff in the custody suites often determine vulnerability when they see children in police detention.
- During the inspection, 73 cases were examined with children had been at risk. 13 cases were seen as good, 34 cases requiring improvement, 26 cases as inadequate.
The report follows an inspection that took place in November 2021. Since that time a new Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner has been elected, along with a new deputy chief constable.
The report acknowledges that several of the findings in the report, are also findings by North Yorkshire Police.
To read the full report: north-yorkshire-national-child-protection-inspection
The National Child Protection Inspection of North Yorkshire Police was conducted by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) found that officers and staff working on child protection are committed and dedicated, while often working in difficult circumstances.
HMICFRS said specific areas for the force to improve included:
- Speaking to children, recording their behaviour and demeanour, listening to their concerns and views, and using that information to make decisions about their welfare.
- Supervising investigations to make sure the force pursues opportunities and avoids delaying cases unnecessarily.
- Promptly sharing information with safeguarding partners.
Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary Andy Cooke said:
North Yorkshire Police’s senior leaders want to protect children and give them better outcomes, and we found some good examples of the force protecting children in need of help.
But in too many cases, practice is inconsistent. Officers don’t always share information quickly enough with safeguarding partners. We also found that supervisors don’t oversee investigations well enough, mainly because they lack the training, skills and experience.
The force knows it needs to do more to help its officers better understand how to safeguard children. We have made a series of recommendations which, if acted on, will help improve outcomes for children in North Yorkshire.
Zoë Metcalfe, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner said:
All children deserve to grow up in a safe environment, cared for and protected from harm. But too many do not, and our police forces have an important role in identifying those who are vulnerable, protecting them and meeting their needs. That is why we need to be candid in acknowledging that what this report has found is unacceptable.
It is clear that sometimes not enough has been done to ensure that North Yorkshire Police can show that vulnerable children are as protected as they should be in North Yorkshire and York, and all too often the failings come despite the best efforts of those who have a policing role to safeguard them.
As a new Commissioner, now responsible for scrutinising the work of the North Yorkshire Police, that is a serious concern. I know that is a view shared by the force’s leadership, and I am sure it will be a concern across the organisation and beyond.
It is important to note that the report does say there is evidence that improvements were underway in November 2021 when the inspection took place, and I have been assured those have continued at pace, so many of the issues identified are now in the process of being addressed. Measures are in place to ensure there is a robust framework in place to track and review this progress. I and my team will closely monitor and review what happens next.
I have also met with local authority partners who have offered their full support to North Yorkshire Police in addressing the report’s findings and ensuring that children are kept safe in the city and the county. North Yorkshire Police have also set out their commitment to me to ensure officers and staff are provided with the skills, capability and capacity to do their job well.
I think it is important that the findings of this inspection are not seen as a reflection on individual North Yorkshire Police officers and staff and the important roles they undertake every day. Indeed, the Inspectors noted this, saying ‘we found that the officers and staff who manage child abuse investigations are committed and dedicated, while often working in difficult circumstances’.
However, one issue is one issue too many in child protection where every interaction counts, and every moment matters, so I have asked the Chief Constable to urgently assess what more can be done to address the recommendations made and ensure officers and staff at every level understand their responsibilities.
We must do better to safeguard those children who are at risk, and I will not rest until we do.
A Public Accountability Meeting focused on North Yorkshire Police’s response to the report will be held on Friday 8 April at 10am.