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The PCC responds to the published findings of the HMICFRS child inspection report

I recognise and appreciate the work done by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) in assessing the work of Avon and Somerset Police in the area of child protection.  

These inspection reports are vital and work hand in hand with our role in scrutinising all aspects of policing to ensure it is as efficient and effective as possible in all areas.  

While there are a number of positive findings which I will come on to, there are several immediate areas of improvement identified. I would like to reassure the public that I will be keeping this issue high on my agenda in the coming months to make sure all recommendations are actioned.  

The inspection took place in July and August this year with 69 cases examined where the police had identified safeguarding issues.  

In summary, the findings were that child protection was found to be good in 17 cases; improvement identified in 30 cases and inadequate in 22 cases. The report concluded that Avon and Somerset Police ‘needs to do more to provide a consistently good service for all children’.  

Most of the improvements set out by HMICFRS are procedural and my expectation is for these to be addressed quickly.  

I would like to acknowledge the hard work and commitment by many officers working in this extremely challenging and difficult aspect of policing and would like to highlight the acknowledgment of inspectors in this: 

 “Overall, throughout the inspection we found dedicated officers and staff, often working in difficult and demanding circumstances. The constabulary has made significant investments in officer and staff welfare.” 

Areas for improvement highlighted:  

  • Officers and staff attending incidents or carrying out investigations aren’t recognising the broader risk to siblings in households or that other children are at risk of harm from perpetrators 
  • Officers aren’t speaking with children and consistently recording the ‘voice of the child’ 
  • The constabulary is relying on children’s social care services to carry out initial investigations instead of carrying out joint investigations 
  • The constabulary has inconsistent methods of making referrals to children’s social care services. Officers aren’t completing and submitting the risk assessment tool used for referrals consistently, when required. 

Examples of good working practices were seen:  

  • Specialist child protection teams are involved from the start of investigations generally leading to a better overall response. This includes the initial safeguarding, investigation and outcomes for the child 
  • Officers quickly contact the children’s social care services emergency duty team about incidents that occur out of hours, where appropriate. Specifically, when there are concerns for a child, a child has been taken into police protection, a child is missing or a child is being detained in custody. 
  • Good multi-agency involvement and decision making at strategy discussions 
  • Response officers are committed to locating missing children quickly, seeking support from specialist teams when required 
  • Specialist investigators and offender managers use arrest and bail conditions to protect children from harm in most cases. 

I will be putting this issue on the agenda for my next Performance and Accountability Board meeting where I hold the Chief Constable to account. If you would like to watch this you can do so online on our Facebook page. The next meeting is 10.30am, Wednesday 13 December and the recording will be available after to watch any time.  

To view the full report visit the HMICFRS website here: National Child Protection Inspection: Avon and Somerset Constabulary 24 July–4 August 2023 (