DORSET POLICE WELCOMES THE LATEST REPORTS ON CHILD PROTECTION
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has today published three national reports on the police services approach to child protection.
Between January 2014 and June 2015, HMIC conducted 21 inspections of different aspects of the police response to child protection issues. These comprised eight inspections of individual forces as part of the National Child Protection Inspection programme. Dorset was not one of the eight forces inspected.
The reports cover the police role in keeping children safe, how police deal with online offending and exploitation, and how police and partners share information to safeguard children.
The reports found that there is a continuing rise in referrals to the police of child protection cases most notably in respect of some elements of child sexual exploitation, such as online grooming.
In the reports HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Tom Winsor stated that it is imperative that police forces do all they can to ensure the vulnerable are protected and cared for, and that they and the community get justice.
The inspections found consistency across England and Wales in there being many hardworking, dedicated officers, devoted to improving the piteous plight of the vulnerable and doing a good job.
Sir Tom Winsor also said that we are under no illusion about the operational difficulty of investigating child sexual exploitation, but of all cases involving vulnerable victims, those involving children deserve the most assiduous and urgent attention.
Not least, this is because the true scale of this type of offending is still to be measured. What we have so far seen is only the tip of an iceberg.
Detective Chief Inspector Chris Naughton, of the Dorset Police Public Protection Unit said: “Protecting vulnerable people and children in particular is a force priority. We acknowledge that this area poses a challenge to the police service and Dorset Police have responded with vigour to this challenge.
“In November 2013 the Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT) was formed with a remit to pro-actively target paedophiles that make, download or distribute images of child abuse and target children online through the internet and social media.
“In 2014 another specialist multi-agency team dedicated to investigating cases of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) was also created. This team works to safeguard vulnerable children and bring perpetrators of exploitation to justice.
“In addition we also have a dedicated Child Abuse Investigation Team which is focused on investigating all other forms of child abuse, sexual abuse and neglect.
“All Dorset’s police officers and staff are aware of their responsibility to identify signs of child abuse and neglect and act accordingly.”
Dorset Police also works closely with partner agencies in Children’s Services, education and health within the Safeguarding Referral Unit.
Chris Naughton continued: “This is some of the action that Dorset Police have already carried out in order to ensure that we provide the best service that we can to victims of child abuse.
“This growing challenge has seen an increase in demand placed on police officers and staff, at a time when the Force continues to experience difficult and continued cuts to its budget.”
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill said: “Dorset may be one of the safest places to live in the country but nowhere is unaffected by the real and constant threat of child abuse or neglect. It can affect any child regardless of their social or ethnic background. Tackling abuse and neglect demands a joined up response from all agencies.
“We are investing more resources into Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) to pursue and prosecute those offenders who exploit vulnerable young people. With our partners we are working hard to identify those at risk of harm and work together to protect them.
“I promised to drive the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) agenda forward, and I have. It is important we share information to ensure a quick response to a child’s needs. This will result in earlier identification of vulnerable children and will improve communication between professionals from police, education, health and social care.
“Neither can I, the police or partners ever promise to eradicate CSE, abuse or neglect but what we can do is re-assure that we will be proactive, bold and determined to prevent any of these abhorrent crimes, and where they happen, prosecute them robustly.
“Children are our future and they deserve to grow up happy, in a safe environment.”
The Dorset Safer Schools and Communities Team (SSCT) offer a range of internet safety education and training packages to all professionals supporting children and young people across Dorset, including schools and other educational establishments. These packages help to raise awareness of the risks associated with the internet, including online grooming, cyber- crime, sexting and child sexual exploitation.
Detective Chief Inspector Chris Naughton continued: “Abusing children is an abhorrent crime, hidden in society for far too long. We are committed to rooting it out and stopping it.
“Everyone, teachers, GPs, parents and other adults have a responsibility to spot the signs of abuse and act.”
The Paedophile Online Investigation Team, CSE Team and SSCT can be contacted on 101. In an emergency always dial 999.
Dorset Police also encourage anyone who may have information relating to child abuse to contact CrimeStoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.