Chief inspector of schools accuses some police forces of failing on child

first_imgThe outgoing chief inspector of schools is embroiled in a row with the inspector of police forces as he accused them of not doing enough to protect children against abuse.Sir Michael Wilshaw has alerted the authorities of ‘growing concerns’ regarding the ‘failure of some police forces’ when it comes to taking child protection responsibilities ‘seriously’.In some cases, Sir Michael said, inspectors found a lack of crucial police involvement in discussing the safety of children who ‘might have been at risk of significant harm’.His damning assessment was based on more than half of Ofsted’s 42 inspections of local authority children’s services in the last year.Inspectors found evidence of cases where police weren’t “sharing information about domestic abuse cases in a timely way” and they were not “notifying social workers quickly enough when children went missing” or “carrying out joint child protection visits with social workers”.But the inspector of Constabulary hit back at Sir Michael saying “that many of the problems to which you refer are also concerns of local authorities and other statutory agencies”.’Failure of the police’In a letter to Sir Thomas Winsor, the chief inspector of Constabulary, Sir Michael said: “The failure of the police to share information in a timely way is a recurring theme in many of our reports this year, particularly in relation to domestic abuse.“For example, in Bury, inspectors found notifications of domestic abuse were being sent in batches to the local authority, rather than being sent as soon as each individual incident arose. As a result, children were being left without help at a critical time.”Sir Michael highlighted particular concerns with the way Cleveland police is handling similar cases.He said: “The most serious concerns about the role of the police in protecting children in the past year followed our recent inspection of Children’s Services in Stockton-on-Tees.“While inspectors found the overall quality of provision by the local authority to be good, the lack of support from Cleveland Police meant that the Safeguarding Board was judged to require improvement.”’Disturbing case’He added: “In one disturbing case, Ofsted’s lead inspector also had cause to question the decision by the police to close an investigation even though there was clear evidence that the children concerned had suffered non-accidental injuries.“It was only through the intervention of the local authority, prompted by my inspectors, that this case was reopened and further investigated by the police.”But the inspector of Constabulary hit back at Sir Michael. Writing in response to his allegations, Sir Thomas said the Inspectorate of Constabulary was assessing the effectiveness of police forces when it comes to protecting “the vulnerable from harm and support victims”.He added: “As you therefore appreciate, we have completed and continue to be engaged in a very substantial body of work in connection with how the police and other agencies deal with child abuse.“You will of course recognise that many of the problems to which you refer are also concerns of local authorities and other statutory agencies.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img

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