Thames Valley Police have criticized child neglect investigations


The police watchdog said the police force does not effectively investigate cases of child neglect and abuse.

His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services (HMIFCRS) has published its report to Thames Valley Police.

She said the force had “failed children” in many cases. Half of the investigations examined were rated as “inadequate.”

Thames Valley Police said it had taken “significant steps” in response.

The National Child Protection Inspection was conducted in May to look into 70 cases in which police identified children at risk.

Child protection force practice was rated as good in 19 cases, required improvement in 16 cases and inadequate in 35 cases.

“Voices not heard”

Inspectors found that investigations to locate missing children were “ineffective” and there was an unacceptable number of late visits by registered sex offenders.

In one case, police failed to search the bedroom of a vulnerable 13-year-old girl until 15 hours after she was reported missing and did not call her mobile phone number for seven hours.

In another case, no preventive assessment was carried out for a man arrested for driving under the influence of drugs with a one-year-old child in the back seat, despite the “clear risk of significant harm” to the child.

However, the swift arrest of two parents after a nine-month-old baby was reported to have suffered unexplained injuries has been described as a “good child-centred investigation”.

HMIFRS also said it had found some good child protection practices with specialist officers and staff who had built strong professional relationships with other safeguarding organisations.

The force’s inspectorate developed an action plan to address the issues.

“We are concerned that frontline officers and specialists have variable knowledge and understanding of good child protection practice.

“In many cases, children were not seen, their voices were not heard, and they were not adequately protected by the force,” the report concluded.

Following the report, Thames Valley Police said: “We are fully committed to making further changes necessary to diligently and quickly address areas for improvement.”

“We will continue to build on our strong collaborative relationships with key partners to ensure TVP practices adhere to the highest standards of quality and integrity and remain resolute in our commitment to putting victims at the center of our work and improving our services.”

HMIFCRS examines the child protection work of every police force in England and Wales.

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