Dear Inspector / Minister,
As the Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire (Local Policing Body), I am providing the following response to the Secretary of State for the Home Office, and His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), in respect of the HMICFRS report ‘Warwickshire Police- National child protection inspection post inspection review’ that was published on the 6 June 2023. This action is pursuant to my obligations under Section 55(1) of the Police Act 1996.
Local Policing Body’s Comments
in February 2022, HMICFRS conducted an inspection of Warwickshire Police as part of its ‘National Child Protection Inspection’ (NCIP) programme. The report was published on the 5 August 2022, in which eight recommendations were identified for improvement for the force. In brief, these were: –
- Warwickshire Police reviews of the Operations Communications Centre (OCC) response to incidents where children are involved. It should make sure that the response reflects the identified level of risk, including continuing or escalating risk.
- Within three months Warwickshire Police acts to make sure that children’s concerns and views are obtained and recorded.
- Warwickshire Police immediately reviews its missing persons arrangements and practices to make sure that throughout the missing episode there is always an effective response
- Within three months, Warwickshire Police carries out a review to make sure that concerns about children are reported to statutory safeguarding partners and organisations effectively.
- Warwickshire Police immediately improves its child protection and exploitation investigations.
- Within six months, Warwickshire Police should improve the response to children taken into police protection.
- Warwickshire Police immediately acts to improve its management of registered sex offenders.
- Within six months, Warwickshire Police should carry out a review of how it manages the detention of children.
My response to the report and its recommendations, together with comments from the Constable, were subsequently provided on 29 November 2022 in a section 55(1) Police Chief Act 1996 letter to HMICFRS and the Home Office. In the letter I expressed my thanks to HMICFRS for its comprehensive scrutiny of this critical area of operation for Warwickshire Police and for its recommendations for improvement. I also recognised the reassuring comments regarding the force’s work with partners to keep children safe and that HMICFRS found effective governance and scrutiny practises as part of a strong culture of protecting from harm. Also, that the inspection also found dedicated officers and staff, often working in difficult and demanding circumstances.
In late February and early March 2023, a year after the original inspection, HMICFRS conducted a NCIP post-inspection review of Warwickshire Police. The associated report was published on 6 June 2023. I again thank HMICFRS for its continued commitment to scrutinising the performance of the force in this field of vulnerability. In doing so, I note the reports summary of its findings: –
“We were pleased to see that Warwickshire Police has committed considerable time, resources, and energy to improving outcomes for children and making changes in line with our recommendations.
It has carried out a review of its structures and staffing levels and has markedly increased the number of investigators dealing with child abuse investigations.
The force has provided specialist training to support these officers and staff. And it has produced guidance documents and videos for a variety of child protection issues.
The force has also provided training to help officers and staff working in the Operations Communication Centre to make better decisions. It has responded promptly to review the diary appointment system to make sure children are properly safeguarded.
It has changed the agenda of daily management meetings to focus on child protection. And 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.
We found Warwickshire Police has improved in many areas, particularly:
- taking prompt action when investigating online child sexual abuse and exploitation;
- managing registered sex offenders and sharing information with frontline staff;
- sharing information with statutory safeguarding partners about risks to children; and
- the use and recording of police protection powers.”
However, I also note HMICFRS’s other comments regarding persistent issues that have yet to be fully addressed, namely that: –
- The force’s response when children are reported missing is inconsistent.
- The force doesn’t focus well enough on children’s welfare when they are arrested and keeps them at the police station after charge when it shouldn’t.
In summary, HMICFRS concluded that: –
Warwickshire Police has made good progress in response to our 2022 recommendations. But the force recognises that it still needs to improve in some areas to provide consistently better outcomes for children.
We are confident that the force understands where it needs to improve. We are also satisfied that senior leaders have plans to make these changes and monitor progress.
As part of our routine monitoring of all police forces, we will continue to evaluate Warwickshire Police’s performance in relation to these recommendations and instigate closer scrutiny if necessary.
In terms of the recommendations, HMICFRS are pleased with the progress made and the force awaiting confirmation that a number of the recommendations have been fully satisfied. I am therefore content that the force has made good progress in addressing many of the issues identified by HMICFRS in its initial NCPI report, but here still remains areas where improvement is required.
Comments from the Chief Constable
I am grateful to HMICFRS for their review and further report. As per my previous comments in response to last year’s full report, it is this scrutiny which helps us not only to drive improvements but also to ensure we provide the best possible service for people – especially children – across Warwickshire.
I am pleased that the report recognises the excellent work already going on in Warwickshire and the significant progress we have made since the inspection team’s first visit. We will continue to take the learning from the first report and this review to effectively drive improvements in child protection across the force to keep children in Warwickshire safe.
The progress made against the recommendations continues to be driven by the Detective Superintendent in charge of Public Protection, overseen through the governance of the Vulnerability and Exploitation Steering Group and assured through the force Performance & Assurance Board.
Comments from the local policing body on the CC’s comments.
Chief Constable Tedds is supportive of the findings of the post-inspection review and has provided her assurance that Warwickshire Police will continue to drive improvements in its child protection arrangements. Progress will be scrutinised through the force’s governance arrangements and it is my expectation that all of the recommendations from the initial inspection will be fully completed to the satisfaction of HMICFRS, also that the persistent issues identified in the post-inspection review will be addressed.
As I do in relation to all HMICFRS inspection reports, I will continue to ‘hold to account’ the Chief Constable in affecting these changes and I expect to see Warwickshire Police achieve and demonstrate the required improvements.
This response will be published on the website of the Warwickshire Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).
Philip Seccombe TD
Police and Crime Commissioner