Lincolnshire Police still has work to do to improve its child protection measures, say government inspectors.
Inspectors at Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services were impressed by the clear undertaking by senior leaders to improve the way it manages risks to children, against a backdrop of increased demand, during their inspection visit in September.
This is the first time Lincolnshire Police’s child protection provision has been specifially inspected as part of a new national directive.
The report released this week identified that while Lincolnshire Police works effectively with partner organisations and has worked hard to improve training for officers, most teams dealing with child protection investigations are not fully staffed. The force also needs to be swifter to pursue people suspected of downloading and distributing indecent images of children and reducing a backlog of visits to registered sex offenders.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoë Billingham said: “It is to its credit that the force took swift and decisive action when we reported our findings to them.
“We found many examples of good work by frontline officers responding to incidents involving children. And Lincolnshire Police’s specialist officers are committed and dedicated. But most teams dealing with child protection investigations are not fully staffed, meaning that some children get poorer service than they should.”
They have asked the force to draw up an action plan to address concerns and will revisit in six months. HMICFRS identified that the force needs to “do more” to ensure a consistently good service for all children.
Chief Superintendent and Head of Crime Steve Taylor says: “We are completely devoted to protecting our county’s vulnerable children. We strive to not only comply with guidance, but we are making real progress to go above and beyond these recommendations.”
He said they were already reviewing processes and the inspection confirmed this was the correct way.
He said: “This January, we implemented our new restructured departments which work to protect children – this resulted in a 30 per cent increase in staff and officers who are specifically trained to investigate offences and safeguard children.
“This meant that we were able to change shift patterns to increase the department’s working hours by 50 per cent. This means that we now have appropriately skilled detectives, officers and staff who can intervene and safeguard when victims need us most.
“We have also introduced a new multi-agency safeguarding hub in Grantham which will see us improve even further on this in the future.”
Other areas the force is focusing on include making sure visits to sex offenders are overseen by a dedicated Detective Inspector, and cases concerning indecent images are investigated sooner.