In response to the specific findings relating to South Yorkshire Police arising from the final HMIC report of the child protection inspection conducted in South Yorkshire in May 2014.

South Yorkshire Police Response

South Yorkshire Police welcomes the HMIC report ‘South Yorkshire – Child Protection Inspection’, which was generated following a visit to the force in May 2014. The report commends the force’s significant increase in capacity within child protection teams, the progress South Yorkshire Police has made around, and the priority it places upon, this issue and the good relationships between the organisation and partner agencies which enhances the county’s safeguarding provision.

The report does identify an inconsistency in child protection provision across the county. This is clearly a cause for concern but is being addressed through a comprehensive action plan that incorporates the recommendations identified within the report.

In the time since the HMIC visit, South Yorkshire Police has continued to improve its service and is in the process of reinforcing its child safety provision further to ensure a consistent approach to the investigation and management of protection issues. The inconsistent quality of service provided to children within the county is being addressed as part of the action plan detailed above. A review of the force’s safeguarding arrangements is being conducted in conjunction with all four districts to ensure that the response to child protection is standardised across the county. This review will also seek to ensure that we have the correct measures in place to successfully risk assess and deal with concerns raised around children in care homes.

South Yorkshire Police has reviewed and refreshed its escalation policy, to ensure that staff are fully aware of the correct way to raise concerns regarding child safeguarding issues. Following recommendations arising from the HMIC child protection inspection, the force, in collaboration with the county’s local authorities, has delivered a scheme providing secure foster placements for detained young people. On the rare occasion where a child is kept in police custody, their care is provided in line with the provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. The organisation has also moved, since the HMIC’s visit, to ensure that health expertise is included in the decision making process following allegations of physical or sexual abuse.

Furthermore, in the last six months South Yorkshire Police has provided training to frontline supervisors and specialist detectives to ensure that all salient information is captured on intelligence systems and is utilised correctly in order to ensure a comprehensive risk assessment can be completed. The force is also in the process of developing a good practice guide for dissemination to all staff, which will serve to reinforce and standardise the levels and quality of care expected in child protection cases.

While South Yorkshire Police is pleased that the HMIC has recognised the significant advances made by force in the area of child protection, the organisation is mindful that further work remains to be done and is committed to ensuring further improvements are made over the coming months and years.

South Yorkshire is, and will remain, absolutely committed to maximising the safety of the children of South Yorkshire.

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Response

It is pleasing to see that the HMIC’s Child Protection Inspection report found that improvements had been made in how South Yorkshire Police deal with child protection issues by the time the inspection was carried out in May this year.  In particular I am pleased that HMIC has identified that good relationships exist between the Force and partner agencies which enhance the county’s safeguarding provision.

I am concerned to read about the inconsistencies in child protection provision across the county and I will be looking closely at how the newly formed centralised referral unit and the new centralised public protection unit have been developed and improved since the inspection was carried out in May.  The purpose of this centralised approach is to bring performance across the whole of South Yorkshire up to the highest possible standard by sharing good practice.

A consistent high standard of custody and care for young people should also be expected and it is not acceptable that young people in some areas have not always received the level of care they should have in this respect.  The Children in Care Liaison Officer pilot scheme is designed to provide a direct link in to care homes with the aim of preventing offending and additionally, to ensure appropriate accommodation is available to young people where required.

I also acknowledge the improvements made by the Force since the HMIC’s visit and will continue to monitor closely the progress being made to ensure children in South Yorkshire are protected from harm.