Cleveland police is improving the way it protects vulnerable people, but concerns remain

Cleveland Police has made notable improvements to how it protects vulnerable people, but some areas remain a concern – in particular, cases involving children and how it records domestic abuse, a report published today has found.

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Integrated vulnerability inspection post-inspection review

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) found that Cleveland Police has started a significant programme of work since previous inspections. This has led to improvements in most areas relating to the protection of vulnerable people, including supporting victims of domestic abuse, catching criminals and engaging with victims.

Cleveland Police has prioritised the way it identifies, assesses and supports victims of domestic abuse, taking positive action at the scene to arrest offenders and applying for orders to protect the most vulnerable victims. This is starting to have a positive impact in reducing the number of times a victim suffers further occurrences of domestic abuse.

While the force is providing a better service overall to victims of domestic abuse, it still needs to improve how it records violent crime, particularly those crimes that relate to domestic abuse.

HMICFRS also said Cleveland Police needs to improve how it assesses, safeguards and investigates cases involving children, such as children who go missing from home, domestic abuse against a child, child abuse and child exploitation.

The inspectorate said the force should ensure that children are not held in custody overnight unnecessarily because of delays in the arrival of an appropriate adult to look after their needs and represent them.

The report also found that the force is now correctly identifying 81% of vulnerable victims, and 64% of repeat victims, but there is still more work to do.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams said:

“Vulnerable children and victims of domestic abuse deserve fast, effective and high-quality help from their local police force.

“Over the last few years, we have reported serious concerns about the service Cleveland Police provides to vulnerable people – that’s why we carried out this inspection to understand how the force has responded to these concerns.

“I am pleased that the force is starting to show progress in tackling these issues, and it has made significant improvements in some areas. However, there has been limited improvement in other areas – particularly in how the force protects children, and how it records violent crimes such as domestic abuse.

“The force still has work to do to respond to the areas of concern we have identified in the past. We will continue to monitor Cleveland Police on its progress, and I am confident that the commitment shown by the force’s leadership, police officers and staff will continue to drive progress in these areas.”

Between 2017 and 2019, HMICFRS carried out three inspections into various areas of Cleveland Police’s work. These inspections all raised serious concerns about how the force kept people safe and reduced crime, and the poor service the force was providing to vulnerable people was a common theme.

In November 2020, HMICFRS returned to review the progress the force had made in responding to the recommendations from all three inspections that specifically relate to how the force protects vulnerable people. The results of this inspection were published today.

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Integrated vulnerability inspection post-inspection review


  • In 2020, a year after the PEEL inspection was published, we reviewed the progress the force had made in responding to the issues raised in all three reports. We sampled case files from June to August 2020. Today’s report describes our findings. The review included:
    • An examination of force policies, strategies, and other documents;
    • An audit of calls, incident logs and case files, including child protection cases and vulnerable adult cases, that related specifically to the areas for improvement set out in the previous inspection reports;
    • Interviews with officers and staff; and
    • Some ‘reality testing’ of the force’s processes, where this could be done remotely.
  • This inspection took place during the COVID-19 restrictions, during which many of the force’s officers and staff had to change the way they work.
  • Due to the pandemic, the force has a significant lack of capacity and capability from its frontline officers to its specialist investigators. Officers and staff have to work long hours to maintain levels of service to the public. The early findings from this inspection have been shared with the force and it has responded positively to ensure that our findings are included within its programme of change.
  • Under section 63B of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, an appropriate adult is a parent, guardian, social worker or any responsible person over 18 years old who is not a police officer, or a person employed by the police.
  • For further information, HMICFRS’s Press Office can be contacted from 9:00am – 5:00pm Monday to Friday on 020 3513 0600.
  • HMICFRS’s out-of-hours Press Office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217729.