A TOP level inspection into how West Mercia Police protects children has found that they are still being unnecessarily detained in police custody.
The findings come in a report by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabularies (HMIC), part of a rolling programme of child protection inspections of all police forces in England and Wales.
The investigation found that the force had made improvements to how it protects children, but was still not performing well in some areas.
An initial report in February 2015 on the child protection work of West Mercia Police found a clear commitment to protecting children but also identified a need to drive consistently high standards across the force and to tackle a number of areas of concern.
The body then carried out a post inspection review in August 2015 and were pleased to find:
1) A clear focus on improving outcomes for children who need protecting from harm.
2) The force had increased the number of officers and staff in specialist child protection teams.
3) Improvements in the way the force investigated and managed child sexual exploitation cases, although there is still more to do.
4) The force had successfully cleared the backlog of work for assessing children at risk of harm.
However, inspectors were concerned to find:
1) Referrals sent to partner agencies lacked detail and did not always take account of the full range of relevant information about children.
2) Joint planning of investigations with other agencies was not fully effective because recording of plans was often poor, so that it was unclear what action was needed or being taken to protect children.
3) Significant delays in the examination of computers and electronic devices continued to undermine investigations.
4) Children were still being unnecessarily detained in police custody. agencies.