Northamptonshire Police is improving child protection, but concerns remain

Northamptonshire Police has made progress in how it protects children, but it should continue to make improvements, according to a new report.

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Northamptonshire – National child protection inspection assessment of progress

HMICFRS had previously raised concerns about Northamptonshire Police’s child protection services.

In its latest inspection, HMICFRS found some encouraging progress, particularly in the way the force responded to vulnerable children reported missing from home.

HMICFRS also said the force was now much better at assessing whether children were particularly vulnerable, both when answering calls from the public and in how frontline officers identify vulnerable children. The inspectorate said the force’s improvement plans and its restructure of senior leadership should help it make further improvements.

However, the inspectorate said Northamptonshire Police had yet to ensure that all its systems and staff were sufficiently focused on achieving better outcomes for vulnerable children. The force still needs to improve the service for children at every stage of contact with the police, including safeguarding and the supervision of child protection investigations.

The force also needs to improve the supervision and management of sex offenders who breach restrictions.

Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary Zoë Billingham said:

“It is vitally important that when children need help, the police are able to provide them with the best support and protection.

“I am pleased to see the progress that Northamptonshire Police has made in this area, and the force’s senior leaders are clearly committed to improving their service to vulnerable children. However, the force still needs to make improvements to provide consistently better outcomes for children.

“We have seen clear signs of improvement in the force’s response when children are reported missing from home. But we still have concerns that children do not always receive the protection they need. For example. there are still significant delays in assessing the risks posed by offenders who use the internet to abuse children.

“The force has invested in more posts and new teams to undertake this crucial area of policing. As a result, Northamptonshire Police should be better placed to work closely with other partners, like local authorities, in keeping children across the county safer.

“The force does recognise the challenges it faces and knows what it needs to do to improve. I encourage the leadership within Northamptonshire Police to continue this positive progress to ensure that children are receiving the support and protection they deserve. We will closely monitor the force’s performance in this area.”

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Northamptonshire – National child protection inspection assessment of progress


  1. Under the National Child Protection Inspection (NCPI) programme, HMICFRS will assess how effectively each police force in England and Wales safeguards children and young people at risk, make recommendations to forces for improving child protection practice, highlight effective practice in child protection work and drive improvements in forces’ child protection practice.
  2. As part our NCPI programme, we initially inspected Northamptonshire Police’s child protection services in 2018. This inspection raised a number of serious concerns about how the force protected children, in particular how it managed violent and sexual offenders, the quality of its child protection investigations and that a significant backlog of electronic devices requiring examination was leading to delays.
  3. Following this inspection, in March 2019 HMICFRS conducted a post-inspection review to assess the progress the force had made against our recommendations from the previous year. Although the force had made a number of changes, we found that overall progress since our initial inspection was slow and the force was not yet effectively managing risk.
  4. Due to these concerns, HMICFRS carried out a third inspection between November and December 2020 of the force’s child protection arrangements. Today’s report is based on these findings.
  5. For further information, HMICFRS’s Press Office can be contacted from 9:00am – 5:00pm, Monday to Friday, on 07836 217729.
  6. HMICFRS’s out-of-hours Press Office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217729.