A significant minority of mothers live daily lives, separated from their children and I am one of them. I have become very aware that my story although a nightmare is not unique...

Sunday, 7 May 2017

I wish I didn't have to say I told you so, but I did

  Just before Easter, HMIC released an inspection report into child protection of my local police force ,amongst others. They had rated Humberside as inadequate and identified a number of areas that required immediate improvement. The Chief Constable had left the force prior to this report.
 Extracts from report are  in bold. 
The report flagged up very serious failings with regard to investigating and safeguarding CSE victims, children witnessing domestic violence, monitoring registered sex offenders and procedural failures leading to insufficient investigation into offences.
I wish I was surprised,but it simply confirmed my experience of daring to report child abuse to them.

The force has only provided limited training for control room staff in relation to vulnerability, including child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse and coercive control . The force has recognised this and plans to provide training to all control room staff in March 2017 to improve understanding. To address this gap in knowledge, it is essential that the force provides this training. The introduction of the VIAT is in part an effort to mitigate this issue, but it is not operating 24 hours a day and in any case does not yet consistently identify vulnerability in a timely way to help assess risk to children.

This is fairly self explanatory, it should have however been dealt with years ago. Humberside is the force that failed to red flag up Ian Huntley

Domestic abuse

The force responded to a 999 call from a victim of domestic abuse three-and-ahalf hours after receiving it. Information in the log relating to the incident indicates that criminal damage may have been committed to the victim’s laptop. When officers did attend the premises, they advised the suspect to leave the premises and concluded (incorrectly) that no crime had been committed. The force assessed this incident as standard risk. However, the victim had been the victim of domestic abuse on numerous previous occasions and there were also other risk factors including a child being verbally abused, drug abuse and separation. No referral was made to children’s social care. Since this incident there have been five further domestic abuse incidents, most of which were assessed in isolation by attending officers as standard risk. We found that officers did not recognise that the escalation and frequency of the occurrences increased the risk of domestic abuse in this family

A neighbour called the police having heard screaming from an adjacent address. A mother of one and three-year-old boys had been assaulted by her partner. The police arrested and charged him. However, there is no entry relating to this incident on the child abuse tracking system, so it is not known whether the children were seen or if their welfare was checked. Further, it appears that no referral was ever made to children’s social care services in relation to two young children exposed to domestic abuse. 

This is appalling, but from my experience not at all unusual, I contacted them a number of times with concerns, supplied historic details, witness contact details and even audio recordings. My youngest told a police officer her Dad had threatened her. My eldest was a victim similar physical abuse to what I had reported months before.  As they say in Yorkshire,nowt appened .

The force does not always record the demeanour of a child, including what the child said to the officer. The force has tried to improve the recording of such information by including specific prompt questions on its domestic abuse risk assessment forms, but the quality of its responses remains inconsistent

Once again from my personal experience, that they actually take very little notice of what children say, leaving them in very high risk situations

The mother of two children (aged six months and two years) reported being sent intimidating text messages and photographs of damage which her ex-partner had caused to the house. She was too frightened to return home. The child abuse computer system was not checked but would have shown a child death linked to the suspect. There was an initial delay in police attendance while young children were left in a high-risk situation with a suspect who had attempted suicide the previous week. The officers failed to identify coercive and controlling behaviour by the suspect. They did not make a timely child protection referral, as this was not highlighted as a case involving children. As a consequence, the case remained in the backlog of cases awaiting inputting on the computer system

Looking at this, how long before another child death, like Ellie Butler?

The force does not consistently record decisions from principal safeguarding meetings in minutes. For example, the multi-agency child exploitation (MACE) meetings held in Hull and East Riding do not record minutes, and so there is no record of any actions agreed. Inspectors also found that the minutes of some strategy meetings and initial child protection conferences did not contain a record of principal decisions made. This means it is unclear what activity has taken place, or is required to keep children safe. It is also very difficult to hold staff and other agencies to account for their action, or inaction

and with regard to the use of Police Protection
However, inspectors were concerned by the force's failure to record data relating to its use of protection powers consistently. The form that officers completed when they exercised these powers should be uploaded to the force intelligence system, but this did not always happen. This means that the force cannot rely on or assess any data it holds and represents a gap in intelligence that might otherwise inform the force's decisions when dealing with future safeguarding incidents
Parents will not be at all surprised at this, many have been complaining nationwide regarding police forces failing to follow procedures then this tainted evidence used in family proceedings.

  Although inspectors found some cases where the decisions reached clearly took account of the needs and views of children, many case files contained very little information about the views of the child. The delays in speaking to children and dealing with suspects seen will do little to deepen the level of trust that children at risk might have in the police or other agencies and may lead them to conclude that the police do not believe them

Which puts them at so much greater risk, both short term and long term.

Inspectors found that most PVPU staff spoken with who manage child abuse investigations are knowledgeable, committed and dedicated to providing good outcomes for children identified as being at risk of harm. However, many PVPU staff have not completed the specialist child abuse investigator development programme (SCAIDP), nor are they detectives or working towards full detective status. No SCAIDP courses are currently available to staff. This lack of training in safeguarding and investigation was apparent through our case audits, in which inspectors found that wider safeguarding issues remained unaddressed. This left children potentially at risk of harm and meant the force was not pursuing some investigative leads.

Case file analysis Results of case file reviews During the course of the inspection, Humberside Police assessed 33 cases in accordance with criteria provided by HMIC. We asked the force to rate each of the 33 self-assessed cases. Practice was viewed as good by the force assessors in five of the cases and as requiring improvement in fourteen. In 15 of the cases practice was considered to be inadequate. HMIC also assessed these cases. We were pleased to note that we agreed with all the force assessors’ gradings. Inspectors selected and examined a further 63 cases where children were identified as being at risk. Sixteen were assessed as good, 21 as requiring improvement and 26 as inadequate. 
Can you imagine if a surgeon operating on children having such a failure rate still being allowed to operate?

The context of the court proceedings

Very rarely have I seen police evidence criticised in judgements. yet from this and I am sure Humberside are not the only force to be failing in this way, it ought to be given more scrutiny ,  I feel that more weight is given to professional evidence in court proceedings .  Parents are seen as conspiracy theorists or non complaint if they question it's validity. This clearly demonstrates it cannot be trusted.
There are of course reasons why, the police are underfunded like every other public service and being inspected may actually add to the problem.

 What if you are that Mum who has called the police numerous times and then Childrens Services get involved saying you don't have understanding of the risk to your children. Or you are facing a child protection conference where the decisions taken are not minuted.   At risk of sounding like I am throwing my dummy out of the pram , it really is not fair. More importantly it is not safe for children.


  1. Who says the Police are underfunded?
    They have plenty funds but for political reasons they will only spend it in certain areas and spheres of activity. They pick and choose. For example, in certain postcode areas. Some they do very little if anything when a burglary is reported. It happened to me and they told me there was little they could do; they would not even look for dabs or knock on the neighbours doors and just issued me a crime number. That day, at work, i was sent to call on a house not two miles away on a well-to-do estate. They had also been burgled the previous night and had had two detectives round plus the forensic team. Not only that, the Police had promised they would have a plain clothes officer staking the zone out for a few days to prevent a repetition.
    I guess its the same with d.v.

    The politicians only concentrate on keeping certain sections of the community happy. They don't care when crimes are centred and/or confined to certain post-codes. Indeed they will probably encourage it. If it is easy to get away with crime locally then the criminals won't bother going into the more high-class areas. Why risk arrest when they can deal , commit violence and rob locally with much less risk?

    Or am I inventing narratives?

  2. No you are not, they clealy look after "people like them", including other professionals. If you are poor and voiceless you are far easier to ignore , despite being far more likely to be a victim of crime