‘Cheshire is a caring constabulary’ that puts vulnerable people at the heart of policing.
That is the view of Her Majesty′s Inspector of Constabulary in a report published today (Tuesday, December 15).
It states the force is ‘good’ at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm and supporting victims. It also praises frontline officers, who are often the first point of contact with those most in need, for being knowledgeable, positive and understanding.
Chief constable Simon Byrne said: “Identifying and responding to vulnerable people is a top priority. As a force we care about the people we serve and this independent assessment reinforces that – praising the helpful attitude of officers and staff, who embody the culture of Cheshire as being a caring constabulary.
“Officers and staff regularly respond to, and deal with, some of the most vulnerable people in the county and often in very challenging situations.
“This is a real credit to everyone and is something that we should all feel very proud of. As a force we have invested in training for frontline staff - from call handlers to response officers and those who provide the necessary support to victims - to ensure they can identify at an early stage those who are vulnerable in our community and then decide upon the most appropriate response to their needs.”
The review, which took place in July, is part of the annual PEEL inspections (into Police Efficiency, Effectiveness and Legitimacy) by the HMIC.
It focused on how effective Cheshire Constabulary is at protecting from harm those who are vulnerable and supporting victims.
This was measured against a number of key areas including:
How well the force identifies those who are vulnerable and assesses their level of risk and need
How well the force responds to vulnerable victims and how well the subsequent police action and work with partners keeps victims safe
How the force responds to and safeguards specific vulnerable groups (including those missing from home and victims of domestic abuse)
How well prepared it is to tackle child sexual exploitation.
Police and crime commissioner for Cheshire John Dwyer said: “We are committed to protecting the most vulnerable in Cheshire and supporting victims through the criminal justice process – this was reinforced recently when the chief constable and I launched our victim’s strategy and Cheshire CARES.
“In Cheshire, victims have previously been supported by the charity Victim Support. Cheshire CARES, a new venture, will provide a support service for all victims of crime and will be able to deliver a faster assessment of what an individual victim needs.”
The review highlights that the chief officer team provides strong leadership and direction to officers and staff across the Constabulary. It states that the force investigates well crimes committed against the most vulnerable victims assigning the right people with the right skills and experience to deal with the complexity of these types of investigations.
It also highlights that early identification of those who are vulnerable is key in Cheshire and investment in training for frontline staff is evident – helping them to identify and respond to vulnerable victims – in particular those involved in domestic abuse or Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).
It acknowledges that the force has clear processes for responding when children are reported missing or absent. Investigations are well supervised and the force works well with partners to keep these children safe.
The issue of CSE is also an area of focus for the inspection. The HMIC states that Cheshire has made a good start in ensuring it is well prepared to tackle the issue.
The force has developed the Pan Cheshire Child Sexual Exploitation Multi-Agency Strategy, which sets out how the four local authorities across Cheshire and their partners intend to address and continuously improve the way they are tackling CSE over the next 3 years.
This runs alongside a campaign - Know and See - to raise awareness of the issue. It was first launched in November 2013 and aims to provide a greater understanding of CSE - and the issues surrounding it.
Mr Dwyer added: “This is a matter that I take very seriously. I don’t want Child Sexual Exploitation to become the norm in today’s society and we all need to work together to ensure that nobody becomes a victim.”
Chief constable Byrne added: “In Cheshire, recorded crime is at its lowest and solved rates are improving but we cannot be complacent. As a force we strive to be the best and deliver our commitments to the public and we continue to do everything we can to ensure that the most vulnerable people in our communities receive the service they deserve.”
Full details of the inspection can be seen on the HMIC website.