Added: Friday 12 July 2013
Please note that this is archived material and may not necessarily reflect the current position of Northamptonshire Police
The Northamptonshire Police Child Protection Arrangements HMIC Inspection Report 2013
• In January 2013 Northamptonshire Police and their child protection partners volunteered to take part in a pilot inspection of child protection arrangements across Northamptonshire by a multi-agency team comprising Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), the Care Quality Commission (CQC), Ofsted and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation (HMIP).
• During the initial inspection the team found a number of deficiencies for Northamptonshire Police including; insufficient priority being given to the protection of children in the County, a lack of cohesive partnership working and information sharing, officers not recognising potential risks to children when they attended domestic related incidents and inadequate systems and robust processes in place to minimise risks to children.
• A further inspection was undertaken in March 2013 and although the inspection team were satisfied that Northamptonshire Police had developed a plan to address the concerns raised and that some improvements had been made the inspection team considered that more progress should have been made and as such no assurance could be offered to show that the situation for children at risk in the county had improved.
• A further re-inspection was undertaken solely by HMIC in June 2013 which culminated in the publication of the report setting out the findings from all three inspections to date and pointing towards a final inspection in October 2013.
• In June HMIC recognised that Northamptonshire Police had made extensive changes, investing significantly in child protection by developing a fully functional Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) and increasing the number of staff in specialist child protection teams.
• In June HMIC also recognised that chief officer commitment has been illustrated by their representation and leadership on the Northamptonshire Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB).
• In June HMIC highlighted that chief officers had shown a strong commitment to improving the police response to child protection by working with strategic leads and partner agencies to develop a joint improvement plan which was prioritised correctly and deliverable within realistic timescales.
• The report recognised that senior leaders had demonstrated the importance of child protection to staff across the force - this was seen as a priority with staff and supported by senior officers.
• Whilst it was acknowledged that the force places greater importance on safeguarding children, the report did highlight that ‘there is still much work to do before it can offer assurance that children at risk are being adequately protected’ and that work was still continuing to make and embed the improvements made across the organisation.
• ACC Foster who has recently joined Northamptonshire Police has assumed responsibility for ensuring the delivery of the recommendations set out in the report and the underpinning joint improvement plan.
• ACC Foster outlined that Northamptonshire Police has fully embraced the recommendations set out in the report and he has provided an unequivocal commitment to working with partners to ensure that the appropriate structures, staffing and processes are implemented to maximise the protection of children at risk across the county.
• ACC Foster outlined that the report encompasses three inspections to date and depicts a journey from inadequately protecting ‘children at risk’, to delivering improvements in child protection, albeit at a slower pace than expected in the four weeks since initial visit and the contrast to significant progress being made when the third inspection was undertaken in June 2013.
• ACC Foster acknowledged that there is still much work to do, and recognised the clear commitment from staff working within child protection and emphasised that with clear leadership, joined up working across the partnership and unrelenting drive, that all the recommendations made by HMIC would be fully implemented upon their return in the Autumn 2013.
Context of Inspection:
‘Northamptonshire Police proactively encouraged the multi-agency inspection team to undertake their pilot inspection across Northamptonshire, to provide an objective assessment of child protection arrangements across the county and identify opportunities to enhance the protection of ‘children at risk’ living in our communities’.
‘The initial inspection by the multi-agency team revealed deficiencies which alarmed Northamptonshire Police who responded immediately to concerns over the lack of information sharing with partners and the potential risks to children – These improvements made were recognised in the two subsequent visits by HMIC’.
‘Following the initial inspection Northamptonshire Police took a measured approach after working with HMIC to elicit an accurate understanding of the recommendations in the absence of a published report and working with partners to ensure a joined up approach rather than making unilateral changes which may have undermined the protection of children at risk across the partnership’
‘Northamptonshire Police is committed to building effective relationships with our key partners and voluntary sector to protect children from harm across the county’.
‘An effective partnership is critical to protecting children and Northamptonshire Police have demonstrated their unequivocal commitment to partnership working with further investment in the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub and high level representation on the Northamptonshire Local Safeguarding Children Board’.
Governance & Accountability:
‘A joint action plan has been developed setting out how each of the recommendations made by the multi-agency inspection team will be implemented across the partnership’. The Northamptonshire Local Safeguarding Children Board will provide clear direction and oversight for the delivery of the plan across the partnership, whilst I take personal responsibility for ensuring that the structures, staffing and processes within Northamptonshire Police maximise the protection of children at risk across the county’.
‘I am confident that the joint action plan will ensure that each of the recommendations made will be delivered prior to the anticipated re-inspection by HMIC in the Autumn of 2013 – However any transformational change takes time to fully embed and work as efficiently and effectively as possible. I will take personal responsibility for continually monitoring and reviewing progress to maximise opportunities to protect children at risk living in our communities’.
‘A peer review has been commissioned by the force for early September 2013 to independently quality assure the progress made in anticipation of the re-inspection due in October 2013 and to share the learning and good practice derived with other forces’.