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Commissioner Says "North Yorkshire Police Has Let The Public Down" over Child Protection

Thursday, 4 May 2023 06:00

By Matthew Pells with additional reporting from Thomas Barrett, Local Democracy Reporter

North Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner says the county's police force has “let the public and the most vulnerable in our society down”

It follows a damning report into how the force protects children from harm.

His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary inspected the force in November 2021 and found the standard of investigations in child protection cases was inadequate.

They revisited in December last year and found not enough progress had been made in tackling the issues.

Police Commissioner - Zoe Metcalfe - says that's not good enough.

As part of the review, inspectors assessed 11 child protection investigations but only three were judged to be ‘good’.

Five were rated as ‘inadequate’ and inspectors found “serious failures in practice“ that resulted in children being harmed or left at risk.

While the review says the control room is now better at identifying at-risk children, it said risk assessments for missing children is inconsistent and there were records of call handlers using “inappropriate victim-blaming language.“

The report includes details of a meeting where a disused hotel was discussed because missing children were known to go there, but despite the situation being well-known to officers no one had dealt with it.

It also said referral arrangements to schools for children affected by domestic abuse are “inefficient and ineffective.“

The report said the force is increasing the number of trained detectives in specialist roles but said it is struggling to maintain the number of experienced detectives required to investigate crimes competently.

It said this has proved to be difficult because over half of the force’s frontline officers have less than two years of police experience. The report says this has led to most officers not having the skills or time to effectively investigate child sexual exploitation or online abuse.

North Yorkshire's Chief Constable has apologised after the reinspection report found the force has not made enough progress tackling issues around child protection.

Chief Constable Lisa Winward says progress has been slower than she'd like.

At a live streamed meeting yesterday both the Police Commissioner and the Chief Inspector were asked questions by members of the public who wanted to know what had gone wrong.

Police and Crime Commissioner - Zoe Metcalfe - said she has overhauled her oversight of the force's response to the issues as a result of the reinspection and is now requiring the Chief Constable to provide monthly public updates on progress.

Chief Constable - Lisa Winward - was asked to defend her leadership of the force and pointed to a number of structural issues which she says have affected the force over recent years.

A further inspection of the North Yorkshire Force will take place at the back end of the year with the commissioner saying she expects to see "significant improvement" from that inspection.

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