Child abuse and child protection issues

Part of: Protecting people from violence and abuse Protecting people online Victims and resolutions

The protection of children is one of the most serious and important responsibilities entrusted to the police service.

In March 2013, we published the report ‘Mistakes were made: HMIC’s review into allegations and intelligence material concerning Jimmy Savile between 1964 and 2012’. Following on from this report, in early 2014 we started a programme of work examining the police response to child abuse and child protection.

Our child protection inspections

HMICFRS has several programmes of child protection inspections. The national child protection inspections focus solely on the policing response to children, and assess how effective this is in every force in England and Wales. But, recognising the crucial and statutory role of partnership working in protecting children, two other programmes are run jointly with other inspectorates and regulators, and look at the effectiveness of those partnerships. These programmes are the joint targeted area inspections (in England) and, from 2020, the joint inspections of child protection arrangements (in Wales).

We draw together themes from these different force or local area level inspections into broader thematic reports, that look at progress, areas for improvement and emerging themes at a national level.

In harm’s way: The role of the police in keeping children safe – 2015

Between January 2014 and June 2015, we conducted 21 inspections of different aspects of the police approach to child protection issues, including:

The report ‘In harm’s way: The role of the police in keeping children safe’, published on 2 July 2015, summarises findings from all these inspections. By drawing them together, we can give a comprehensive overview of the experiences of vulnerable children who come to the attention of the police. We highlight both good practice and areas for improvement.

National child protection thematic – 2020

Our second thematic on child protection, published in February 2020, draws on findings from:

Together, these reports provide a powerful analysis of how well police forces serve the needs of vulnerable children.

This thematic explores the key themes identified by the evidence we have gathered from all 64 inspections, and considers the ways in which the police service, its safeguarding partners and the Government need to adapt and respond in order to meet the challenges they face.

Accompanying this report is research, commissioned by HMICFRS, exploring the perceived impact of the National Child Protection Inspection programme since it began in 2014. This research was carried out by NatCen.

Read the NCPI programme evaluation report.

Inspection of the police response to child sexual exploitation in England and Wales

We will carry out a thematic inspection of how the police respond to child sexual exploitation in England and Wales.

In our inspection, we will assess how effectively the police and other law enforcement bodies respond to group-based child sexual exploitation. We will do this by examining current practices in policing and law enforcement throughout England and Wales. We will also assess how effectively the police and other law enforcement bodies respond to victims and deal with perpetrators.

We will publish the report in due course.

Read the terms of reference: inspection of the police response to child sexual exploitation in England and Wales.

Future inspections

We are continuously working, both as a single agency and with our organisations to develop our work in this area. Further details will be published in more detail in due course.

Please get in touch if you have a question or would like to comment on any area of our child protection work, email Contact HMICFRS

If you would like to seek advice on any of the issues raised in these reports, please contact ChildLine.

Related reports

Knife crime: safeguarding children and young people in education