Cleveland Police has been told it must do more to protect children and provide the support they need.
A report issued by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has found that while some improvements have been made by the force, more action needs to be taken to strengthen its safeguarding practice.
The force still needs to do more to ensure children receive the support and service they deserveMike Cunningham
The report follows an inspection carried out in May.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Mike Cunningham said: “Our inspection of Cleveland Police highlighted some innovative work the force is undertaking to protect children. I was particularly impressed by the clear commitment from both staff and the chief officer team to improving services for children. However, the force still needs to do more to ensure children receive the support and service they deserve.
“In a significant number of cases we looked at there was poor supervision and record-keeping. The force’s response to children who regularly go missing from home also requires improvement. I would also like to see the force further improve the treatment of vulnerable children in custody.”
Cleveland Police chief constable Iain Spittal said: “This report shows the real progress we’re making to ensure that all of our children grow up in safe environments, cared for and protected from harm.
“Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) found that the Force is committed to protecting children. Protecting vulnerable people is a priority for both myself and the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and is reflected in the police and crime plan.
“In 2016 we conducted an internal review of demand, which led to the allocation of additional resources for those departments responsible for child protection.
“The review also prompted significant changes to the governance and oversight arrangements that shape the force’s approach to child protection and vulnerability.
“It is positive that HMICFRS found that work being done by the Force is improving outcomes for vulnerable children and that our focus on vulnerability is translating into positive action for its child protection work.
“However, this is an ongoing process and we cannot, for the sake of our children, afford to be complacent.
“We will closely study the HMICFRS report and act quickly to address, if we have not already done so since the inspection, areas of improvement. We have, as identified by HMICFRS, a clear and unequivocal commitment to protecting vulnerable children and we will continue to strive to provide that protection.”