West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner’s response to HMIC National Child Protection Inspection (8 Mar 2016)

West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Mark Burns-Williamson, said: "HMIC have recognised in their most recent Child Protection Inspection (August 2015) that West Yorkshire Police (WYP) is committed to improving the protection of children and has highlighted the multi-agency safeguarding hubs and specialist teams that have now been put in place across West Yorkshire to tackle Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and abuse.

"But concerns have still been raised around the recording of relevant information, inconsistencies in workloads and practices, despite significant realignment of staff and investment of £millions of resources into safeguarding work generally across WYP and partners over the past 2 years.

"However, in the more recent Police Effectiveness Efficiency and Legitimacy (PEEL) inspections WYP were rated as good at keeping people safe with a clear focus on protecting those who are most vulnerable and supporting victims which is more encouraging and shouldn't be overlooked in the overall context.

"I have spoken to and will be meeting with the T/Chief Constable to ensure all the concerns have or are being addressed, as the inspection was August 2015, some seven months ago, and to see what more needs to be done with my and partner agency support to ensure the care and protection of vulnerable children remains a top priority.

"As PCC I understand there is a gap in the provision of services across West Yorkshire, in particular for children, and have already commissioned a research project 'A Voice for Young Victims of Crime' to look at to inform what more needs to be done to support young victims of sexual violence and other serious crimes.

"From April, a Child Sexual Abuse Assessment Service (CSAAS) will be opened, also sometimes known as a paediatric Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), providing a consistent response to the acute needs of victims of sexual abuse under 18, in addition to the adult SARC service that was opened in April 2015.

"The report recognises the extra £3.5million I made available to WYP for increased capacity to deal with CSE, Human Trafficking and Cyber Crime and the work with all five districts to develop awareness raising on CSE and engagement in a schools programme.

"The report also highlights the work to improve how we track and exchange information on children at risk of CSE and who go missing across district boundaries through the appointment of my CSE safeguarding adviser last year who works with partners in all districts to lead, deliver and advise on my strategy for a coordinated, cohesive and consistent response to safeguarding across districts.

"I know that West Yorkshire Police have also been working closely with partners to establish alternatives to custody for children charged with a criminal offence, but more progress needs to be made.

"Child Sexual Exploitation and abuse is one of the highest priorities for police and partners and quite rightly is an area of work subject to close scrutiny and we need to constantly work together with safeguarding partners to ensure we are doing all we can to identify and protect vulnerable victims.

"The safeguarding of children is all of our responsibility and it is never acceptable for any child to be failed by the agencies that are there to support them. As PCC I will be continue to hold the Chief Constable to account for the safeguarding of children across West Yorkshire."

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