Herts Police should do more to protect vulnerable people in St Albans district, says inspectorate
06:00 26 February 2016
There are calls for more to be done to protect vulnerable people from harm in the St Albans district, following an Ofsted-style report on the effectiveness of the Herts Police.
While Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary’s (HMIC) report on the local force rated its overall performance as ‘good’, improvement was needed in protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and in the way the organisation supports victims.
HM Inspector Zoe Billingham, who led the recent inspection, said: “There is an impressive dedication and commitment to protecting the most vulnerable members of the community, like children, at risk of harm and victims of domestic abuse.
“However the force needs to improve its response to missing and absent children.”
Following last Thursday’s (18) publication of the report, a spokesman for child protection charity NSPCC said: “It is concerning that frontline staff, according to HMIC, are still confused about what their responsibilities are.
“There is a real risk that Herts may not be managing effectively its investigations into missing children or working as well as it should to understand and prevent vulnerable children from repeatedly going missing.
“This may result in vital opportunities to protect vulnerable children or identify a potential risk of sexual exploitation, to go missing.”
Local district and county councillor Chris White, Lib Dem candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner, said it was ‘vital’ there was improved clarity over who had responsibility for missing children, and that more work was done with local authorities and others in relation to child sexual exploitation.
He called upon Herts Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) David Lloyd to ensure the HMIC recommendations were carried out, and “that there is an adequate budget” to improve this area.
Detective Chief Inspector Kay Lancaster, of Herts Police, said that while the force had a dedicated missing persons unit, the HMIC report suggested more needed to be done to understand the background of those repeatedly going missing, for example young people living in children’s homes.
PCC David Lloyd said he was pleased that the force’s performance had been rated ‘good’ overall, but he was concerned that more needed to done to protect vulnerable people.
He said extra resources had been invested into specialist services which supported those who were vulnerable, and that improvements would be made in this area of policing.
The way police stop and search people was another area needing improvement, but officers’ Taser usage was deemed “fair and proportionate”.