Lincolnshire Police is criticised for failing to pinpoint possible risks of sexual exploitation when children go missing.
The judgement appears in the latest HMIC Peel report, focusing on the effectiveness of the county force in 2015.
... frontline staff and supervisors do not always identify risk factors associated with missing children and the potential links to child sexual exploitationHMIC Inspector
In some areas the force is praised for keeping people safe but urged to do better in others.
The report says while police staff show a positive attitude to protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims, “the force does not have a co-ordinated or consistently well-supervised process for responding to reports that children are missing or absent”.
It continues: “Understanding of the scale and nature of the issue is under-developed, which means the response to missing children is inconsistent and frontline staff and supervisors do not always identify risk factors associated with missing children and the potential links to child sexual exploitation.”
Deputy Chief Constable (DCC) Heather Roach said the force is taking steps to address issues raised by the report, and now has a sergeant and four officers dedicated to missing persons – their role will include focusing on missing children who may be at risk of sexual exploitation.
She said in the last year, a multi-agency group had been set up at Grantham – including representatives from the police, health service, youth offending and children’s services – to pool specialist knowledge on child sexual exploitation issues.
DCC Roach said frontline officers and control room staff had also been given child sexual exploitation risk assessment information to raise their awareness and “so they know the things to ask” in cases where children go missing.
The report says the force needs to improve the quality of its crime investigation while acknowledging its “in-depth understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime” and praising it as good for “disrupting the activity of organised crime groups”.
The report’s overview, measuring effectiveness at keeping people safe and reducing crime, says Lincolnshire Police requires improvement.
Four categories are measured on a scale that runs from outstanding to inadequate.
Two require improvement:
• Effectiveness in keeping people safe and reducing crime
• Effectiveness in investigating crime and managing offenders
Two are good:
• Preventing crime and anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe
• Tackling serious and organised crime, including arrangements to fulfill national policing priorities