Charities warn police will fail to detect abuse

Children’s charities have criticised the lack of priority
given to child protection in the first national policing plan,
warning that that it will lead to many cases of child abuse going
undetected, writes Sally Gillen.

The plan, which sets out the priorities for local forces over
the next three years, mentions child protection just once in a
single paragraph under the heading of  “other policing
responsibilities”, between terrorism and roads policing.

It does not feature as a priority area or among the 31 key
milestones to be achieved by the police.

Barnardo’s principal policy and practice manager Tink
Palmer said that its lack of emphasis would see forces allocating
resources to tackling abuse on an ad hoc basis after other crimes
had been dealt with.

She also cast doubt on how effective the police would be in
tackling the changes around abuse of children outlined in the
sexual offences bill without the necessary resources.

NSPCC policy adviser Christine Atkinson said the charity would
like to see child protection made a national priority for all
police forces, adding that it should not be “left to individual
police forces to set their own priorities as this could lead to
inconsistent practices across the country”.

The plan, which lists four priority areas – anti-social
behaviour and disorder; reducing the volume of street, drug-related
violent and gun crime; combating serious and organised crime; and
increasing the numbers of offences brought to justice – has
also attracted criticism from within the police.

Terence Grange, lead officer on child protection for the
Association for Chief Police Officers, said the plan identified
children as “problems” early on with its emphasis on anti-social

“Child protection is tagged on the end,” Grange said. “It
hasn’t got the proper emphasis, and will be seen as something
that needs to be dealt with after about 20 things.”

A home office spokesperson said that it regarded child
protection as among its highest priorities.

She added that £500,000 had been made available to help the
43 police forces in England and Wales put together child protection

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