West Yorkshire Police have been criticised over failings in child protection services.
Local publisher the Huddersfield Daily Examiner reports that a new study by police watchdog HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) finds that some cases of child protection dealt with by the force were subject to delays and responses by the force were described as “weak”.
The police watchdog also cites some cases of child protection where police approaches were “inconsistent”.
West Yorkshire Police Force is praised, however, for its “clear commitment” to improving its child protection operations. The watchdog’s report also finds that officers in the force respond quickly to any concerns raise over child protection operations.
Inspectors from HMIC say that officers at West Yorkshire Police were “knowledgeable, committed and dedicated to providing the best outcome for the child”.
However, the report adds “…there is more to be done – particularly on the more difficult cases – to ensure that delays are reduced”.
The report also states that police attendance at initial child protection conferences was “unsatisfactory” – and more must be done to prevent children being kept in police custody overnight.
“Moreover, there were serious concerns about the failure of some staff to appreciate the value of police contribution in child protection cases,” the report adds.
The assistant chief constable of West Yorkshire Police, Russ Foster, responded to the HMIC report, saying:
“Protecting and safeguarding children is our top priority – and we are absolutely committed to doing everything that we possibly can to minimise the risks to children, and ensure that they receive an appropriate level of care and are protected from harm.
“HMIC visited in August 2014, while we were in the throes of a comprehensive review of our safeguarding units – and looking at enhancing service delivery, refining our structures and better managing our demand, with a view to providing a consistently high quality service to protect children across the five districts of West Yorkshire”.
“We will continue to build effective relationships with both statutory and voluntary partners – and work closely with them to safeguard vulnerable children and take positive action against those who abuse or neglect children.”
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