National child protection inspection programme – methodology

Published on: 16 April 2024


The aims of our inspection are to:

  • assess and report on how efficiently and effectively police forces safeguard children who are at risk;
  • make recommendations to police forces to improve child protection arrangements;
  • highlight promising and innovative practice; and
  • drive sustainable improvements in forces’ child protection arrangements.


Our programme of child protection inspections makes sure that all 43 police forces in England and Wales are regularly scrutinised.

The expectations of agencies to safeguard children are set out in statutory guidance, working together to safeguard children for England and safeguarding procedures for Wales.

The guidance sets out specific roles for the police, including:

  • identifying children who might be at risk from abuse and neglect;
  • inter-agency working and sharing information to protect children; and
  • investigating alleged offences against children.

These roles are the focus of our inspections.

The scope of our inspections

In each inspection, we will focus on the experiences of children who come into contact with the police when there are concerns about their safety or well-being.

We will assess how well the force works with other organisations to protect, safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

We will also assess the effectiveness of police investigations into crimes against children and take account of compliance with national and local policies and guidance.

These inspections will consider how the arrangements for protecting children, and the leadership and governance of the force, contribute to and support effective safeguarding practice.


In our inspections, we will:

  • carry out case file reviews;
  • interview and hold discussions with police personnel and staff from other safeguarding agencies;
  • examine data, reports, policies and other relevant written materials.

Case file reviews

Our case file reviews will cover:

Post inspection follow-up activity

Within 28 days of the force receiving the inspection report for pre-publication checks, we require the force to provide an action plan. In this plan, the force needs to specify how it intends to address any causes of concern and recommendations.

Within eight weeks of the report being published, we require the force to provide an updated action plan. This plan should include details of how the force will address any areas for improvement.

Where inspection findings are broadly positive, we will discuss the forces’ progress and how the action plan is being implemented during the post-inspection visit.

Forces will be notified two weeks in advance of the date of their post-inspection visit. During this visit, we will carry out:

  • interviews with officers and staff, including chief officers, the child protection lead and any other relevant staff; and
  • a limited review of documents that record how the force is implementing our recommendations.

If we identify any concerns during this visit, we will provide feedback at that time. In exceptional circumstances, a full re-inspection may be necessary.

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National child protection inspection programme – methodology