Humberside Police's child safeguarding improves despite 'concern' at progress

Humberside Police has improved child safeguarding, a new report says.
Humberside Police has improved child safeguarding, a new report says.

Humberside Police has made some improvements to how it safeguards vulnerable children but "decisive and timely action" is needed in other areas, according to a review.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) today published its post-inspection report following a previous national child protection assessment of the force.

In terms of providing the best outcomes for children only 26 per cent of the cases inspectors looked at were carried out to a good standardduring this review, they said, with the rest graded as either requiring improvement or inadequate.

However, the review acknowledges that the introduction of a new database system is partly responsible for the slow progress in improving that area and outlined a number of instances where the force has bettered itself.

The force's Detective Superintendent Matt Hutchinson today said he was pleased with the positive findings but admitted there was "more to do".

The latest inspection in autumn last year reviewed the progress made in the force since the publication of HMICFRS’ Humberside – National Child Protection Inspection in April 2017.

Th 2017report, which detailed findings from the previous year, said the force was "not consistently protecting all children at risk", pointing to "poor responses by some officers", failures to pursue appropriate lines of enquiry, and "inadequate management and supervision arrangements and insufficient evidence of recognition of these deficiencies".

Today's report sets out that the force has made improvements in:

- the way it approaches its management of sex offenders

- its assessment of risk and early referral

- its approach to the recording and completion of protection documentation

- control room risk assessment and triage

However, there are still improvements to be made, according to inspectors.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said: “Humberside Police recognises the need for improvements in how it protects children and appreciates the scale of the task ahead of them.

"I am encouraged by individual cases that show how the force, working along other agencies, can protect those children in most need of help.

"There is still work to do, however. Progress in some areas has been slow, due in part to the force changing its database last summer, and the problems it has encountered while officers and staff get used to a different way of recording and searching systems.

“The force still needs to be more consistent in providing the best outcomes for children. Only 26 per cent of the cases we looked at were carried out to a good standard, with the rest graded as either requiring improvement or inadequate. This is a slight improvement on last year, but I am concerned with the pace of progress.

“Our inspection found that there is a real appetite for change in Humberside Police, but good intentions need to be backed up with decisive and timely action. We will be closely monitoring how the force responds to the recommendations from today’s report, and expect to see progress made.”

In response to the HMIC report on Child Protection, Detective Superintendent Matt Hutchinson from Humberside Police said: “I’m pleased that HMIC have recognised the commitment we have made to make improvements in how we protect children.

"With a new leadership team in place, and the database system now settling in, there is a real appetite for change at all levels within the organisation.

“I am also pleased that they have acknowledged the improvements we’ve already made in important areas such as how we manage sex offenders, our triage processes in the Hub and how we assess risk, as well as our approach to early referral. We do have more to do and have already made progress in many other areas since the re-inspection in October 2017.

“For example, we’ve put huge investment into how we work with our partner agencies to share information, providing specialist training for staff and improving our recording and reporting systems so that we have better information to help with decisions on resources and priorities.

"We are also working on a full review of our processes in response to reports of Domestic Abuse and have allocated additional resources to reduce backlogs and to deliver an improved service to our communities.

“We will continue to work quickly and with momentum in this area to ensure the pace of improvement continues.”

The reports are part of a rolling programme of inspections of all police forces in England and Wales.