Thames Valley Police is judged ‘good’ in the protection and support of vulnerable people by HMIC
In their report published today (15/12) HMIC found that protecting vulnerable people is a high priority for TVP. The Force was found to have invested in training, investigative resources and new partnership structures to improve the services it provides.
The report looked at four areas:
- How well does the Force identify those who are vulnerable and assess their level of risk and need?
- How well does the Force respond to vulnerable victims?
- How well does the subsequent police action and work with partners keep victims safe?
- How well does the Force safeguard and respond to specific vulnerable groups, including missing and absent children and victims of domestic abuse; and how well-prepared is it to tackle child sexual exploitation?
In the report the HMIC found that the Force worked well to identify those who are vulnerable, making good use of intelligence to assess their risk at the first point of contact so that the most appropriate police response can be deployed. HMIC found that call takers are well-trained to identify and respond to risk and vulnerable people.
HMIC concluded that TVP responds well to vulnerable victims. Frontline officers have a good understanding of their responsibility to provide enhanced levels of service for vulnerable victims to ensure they are supported and protected.
The Force was found to be good at effectively identifying vulnerability at an early stage of an investigation and there was clear evidence that staff followed up safeguarding enquiries in a timely fashion. HMIC was impressed by some of the local initiatives that have been put in place, including in Milton Keynes, to manage medium-risk domestic abuse cases. The report also highlighted a scheme in Abingdon for vulnerable elderly victims.
The report looked at how well the Force deals with three specific areas of vulnerability: domestic abuse, missing and absent children and its preparedness to deal with child sexual exploitation.
Domestic abuse is recognised in the report as a Force priority, 18 months ago HMIC recognised Thames Valley Police as providing a good service to victims of domestic abuse which helped keep them safe from further harm. Today’s report recognises that we have made further progress and have taken steps to address all of the recommendations.
The Force identified the potential for missing and absent children to be at risk of sexual exploitation and as a consequence has reviewed the way it deals with missing children and updated its standard operating procedures.
The Force is recognised for tackling child sexual exploitation and it is one of the Force’s highest priorities. This involves prevention, identification, disruption and investigation of such exploitation with specialist multi-agency teams set up to protect vulnerable children from child sexual exploitation
Across the Thames Valley, multi-agency safeguarding hubs are being implemented to provide a partnership response to the safeguarding of vulnerable children and adults.
Thames Valley Police Deputy Chief Constable, John Campbell, said: “We welcome the positive HMIC assessment and are pleased that the report acknowledges the good work and progress of TVP to protect vulnerable victims.
“This is in no small part due to the hard work of our staff and officers working closely with our partners and responding to the changing needs of the community we serve.
“We are not complacent and are continually looking at ways that we can improve services for the vulnerable. This includes the need to address changing demands that may require extra resources. More recently we have allocated additional resources to the child abuse investigation teams to address their increased workload.”
Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfeld said: “I welcome the findings from the HMIC PEEL inspection on vulnerability and I am pleased that Thames Valley Police’s good work in this area has been recognised. Protecting vulnerable members of our communities is of huge importance to all agencies and is and will continue to be a priority for both myself and Thames Valley Police.
“Whilst I am of course delighted that Thames Valley Police has been rated ‘good’ in this inspection I do recognise that there is still work to do across this area, in particular within aspects of domestic abuse such as honour based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation, and I will be working closely with Thames Valley Police and our partners to ensure any necessary improvements are made.
“Tackling domestic abuse and supporting those affected is a complex safeguarding issue and all multi-agency professionals have a role to play in keeping victims and their children safe. Over the last two years my office has been working on creating new support services for victims of crime and these services are now up and running.
“Providing assistance to victims of domestic abuse and, in particular, those victims with complex needs (e.g. mental health problems, self-harming, drug misuse, offending) was highlighted as a key area of need, as was supporting young victims. As a result I am currently funding 3 county-based projects to help these vulnerable victims of domestic abuse and to investigate further any other gaps in service for victims with specialist needs.
“I have also commissioned SAFE!, to provide support across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire to young people who have either been victims of domestic abuse themselves or witnessed it within their family. Young victims of child sexual exploitation will also be supported through SAFE! until age 16 and through my sexual violence service, provided by Refuge, from age 16 onwards.”
More information on these services can be found at http://www.thamesvalley-pcc.gov.uk/Victims/Victims-Services.aspx.