Throughout the past year we have worked across all the areas that HMICFRS previously highlighted for improvement, and while our action plan has not been fully delivered we have made progress in all areas. Our objective is to ensure that the improvements we put in place to better protect vulnerable children are truly embedded and sustainable in the long term.
We have invested significantly in the training of our officers and control room staff and the Report notes that this is working and that they found a much-improved approach to identifying risk and providing the right level of response to help vulnerable children and focus on the voice of the child.
Our Digital Forensics Unit was highlighted in the Report as causing delays in the safeguarding of children. We have invested £400k to reduce the backlog and the Unit is currently on track to deliver a standard turnaround for the examination of digital devices within 72 hours, which will make a significant difference to the timeliness of our investigations. We have invested £1.17 million to increase the specialist roles in our central safeguarding team, with a focus on child protection. We are also establishing specialist safeguarding teams within each of our three command areas which will help us to develop a more specialist response to child safeguarding.
We are grateful to our safeguarding partners, particularly in the local authorities, for their support in the improvements that have been made, and welcome the Report’s statement that good quality information is being shared with them at an earlier stage.
We know that there is still further work to be done and are fully committed to delivering and completing the actions in our improvement plan. We know that this work is a priority for every vulnerable child in our communities and we will continue to apply and embed a child-centred response in our work.
HMICFRS will be returning to the force at the end of 2023 and we expect to be able to demonstrate further improvements in our protection and care for vulnerable children.
Online public meeting information
The Commissioner will be hosting a Public Access Meeting (PAM) on Wednesday 3 May from 1–2pm. To attend the meeting you can use the following links: