Laura Sharman 19 October 2016

Ofsted chief accuses some police forces of failing on child protection

The chief inspector of Ofsted has criticised police forces for failing to protect children from abuse.

In a letter to Sir Tom Winsor, HM chief inspector of Constabulary, Sir Michael Wilshaw accuses some police forces of failing to share information with local authorities and social workers about domestic abuse cases and missing children quickly enough.

He warns that a failure to tackle these issues could lead to a repeat of child protection scandals similar to those seen in Rotherham and Oxford.

The letter states: ‘I am writing to alert you to my growing concerns about the failure of some police forces to take their child protection responsibilities seriously.

‘In the past year, more than half of Ofsted’s 42 inspections of local authority children’s services identified serious weaknesses in the contribution made by the police to safeguarding children.’

letter highlights examples of where police had failed to share information in a ‘timely way’. This includes sending Bury Council reports of domestic abuse in batches as opposed to when an incident occurred, while referrals in Wirral could take up to four weeks.

The letter added: ‘In each of these areas, the level of risk faced by the children concerned was not being identified swiftly or effectively. As a result, inspectors could not be sure that children were receiving the help and protection they needed and deserved.’

Sir Wilshaw also criticised some police forces for failing to attend important child protection conferences, not carrying out joint child protection visits with social workers and a failure to tackle the Disclosure and Barring Service backlogs.

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