Children’s charities have criticised the lack of priority given to
child protection in the first National Policing Plan, warning that
it will lead to many cases of child abuse going undetected.
The plan, which was released last week and 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” with terrorism and roads
It does not feature as a priority area or among the 31 key measures
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 after other crimes had been dealt with.
“There’s a growing awareness among professionals in the field of
child protection that, in order to combat the issues, there has to
be a strategic approach,” said Palmer.
She also cast doubt on how effective the police would be in
tackling the legal changes relating to abuse of children outlined
in the sexual offences command paper released last week, without
the necessary resources.
NSPCC policy adviser Christine Atkinson said the charity would like
to see child protection made a priority for all police forces. She
added 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 lists four priority areas: antisocial behaviour and
disorder; reducing street, drug-related, violent and gun crime;
combating serious and organised crime; and increasing the numbers
of offences brought to justice. These have also attracted criticism
from within the police.
Terence Grange, lead officer on child protection for the
Association of Chief Police Officers, said the plan identified
children as “problems” early on with its emphasis on antisocial
“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 spokesperson for the Home Office said that it regarded child
protection as among its highest priorities and that “it would be
remiss to suggest that we are not doing anything about it”.
She added that £500,000 had been made available to help the 43
police forces in England and Wales put together child protection