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Police child protection failings scrutinised

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heddlupoliceA REPORT released this week has highlighted failings in child protection across the UK’s police forces, including Dyfed Powys, which was examined as part of the In Harm’s Way report.
According to the findings for Dyfed Powys, which were released in February, children were detained in Police custody ‘unnecessarily’ overnight, and in some cases delays in high tech support meant that the phones and computers of sex-offence suspects were not analysed for several months.
In cases involving teens, Child Sexual Exploitation was ‘not routinely considered,’ and in a number of cases the report said: ‘The behaviour and demeanour of the child was not recorded.’ It was noted that there was no system in place for ‘flagging’ records of children subject to the child protection plan, which could lead to control room staff and frontline officers not being aware of a child’s circumstances.
However, the report, by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary praised Dyfed-Powys police for their efforts in improving the protection of children, and singled out the rapid initial response when child safety was at risk, and added that ‘safeguarding remained central to efforts while officers pursued criminal investigative opportunities.’
It also acknowledged the high workloads of a small specialist team, and accepted that the ‘large geographical area policed by the force posed an extra challenge.’
Of 33 cases reviewed by the Inspectorate, 12 were shown to demonstrate good practice. However the work on nine cases was considered inadequate. At the time, Det. Superintendant Andy John ‘welcomed’ the findings, saying that: ‘Protecting children and vulnerable people is a priority for the organization.’
Across the country, the failings of Dyfed-Powys police force were mirrored, with poor practice found in more than a third of cases investigated. Although all forces have strategies and policies in place that are designed to ensure children are effectively protected and safeguarded (i.e. protected from further harm), and senior leaders are clear in the priority they place on this area of policing, HMIC’s inspections found that the plans articulated by senior officers have failed as yet to result in consistently good services for children.
On too many occasions HMIC found that investigations into child abuse or neglect were poor and plagued by delay, and the response to reports of offences against children – ranging from online grooming to domestic abuse – was inadequate.
HMIC concluded that pockets of excellent practice observed across all inspectionsweretheresultofdedicated and professional individuals and teams, rather than a united, understood and applied focus on protecting children at force level. Additionally, there is currently not enough done in forces to find out the effects on children of police intervention, nor to understand their experiences when they come into contact with the police. This means that forces do not know what works in protecting children or how successful or positive their impact is on children.
The increasing numbers of cases involving child protection means that the police will have to adapt to a substantial new challenge, with new ways of working. The old methods of policing, which relied on a target driven approach where what mattered was what was counted – an approach which still permeates policing today – must be driven from the policing culture once and for all. Children must be placed at the heart of what policing does next.
The dedicated and extremely motivated individuals and teams HMIC encountered in the course of the inspection work also need and deserve better support – particularly as they deal sometimes on a daily basis with details and circumstances which can be distressing and horrifying. Senior officers must ensure they are working in an environment in which they are valued and supported when carrying out protection and safeguarding activity, which might be invisible to the public, but which they are doing on behalf of children, and of us all.
HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Thomas Winsor said: “We are under no illusion about the operational difficulty of investigating child sexual exploitation, but of all cases involving vulnerable victims, those involving children deserve the most assiduous and urgent attention. Not least, this is because the true scale of this type of offending is still to be measured. What we have so far seen is only the tip of an iceberg. The sufferings of children, and the risks that other children will endure them in the future, are of the highest and gravest concerns of the whole community. It is the duty of every member of that community, particularly the police and the other agencies of the state, to intensify their efforts to ensure that everything is done to rescue children from the perils of abuse, sexual exploitation and neglect which are so prevalent in society, risks which are intensified by the dark applications of modern technology. Their cries are the indictments of us all.”
HMI Dru Sharpling, who led the inspections, said: “Children must come first – there can be no compromise when it comes to child protection. Getting it right most of the time can never be the explanation for failures that have devastating consequences for the child, carers and families. Dealing with child protection cases can be enormously challenging and complex. There is no question of this, nor that there are officers out there who are dedicated and passionate in protecting children and bringing perpetrators of abuse to justice. HMIC found that where cases of child abuse and neglect are straightforward, they are almost always dealt with promptly and efficiently. But often these cases are complicated and unique, so the processes for dealing with them have to adapt. This requires training officers and equipping them with a different set of skills than is required for other types of police investigation. In other areas of child protection, officers must have the confidence and the support they need to apply tried-and-tested investigative techniques, regardless of the fact that the offending is now taking place in the online space. The abuse and neglect of children is not new, but the scale of current and non-recent sexual abuse revealed by recent investigations has shocked the nation. Although the police don’t deal with these issues in isolation, they need to lead the way in tackling this societal scourge and prioritise work, not according to workload, but with the welfare of the child as the priority. Future generations will judge us according to the action we take now.”

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Public Services Board seeks views to improve local well-being

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CARMARTHENSHIRE’S Public Services Board (PSB) is seeking residents’ views to find out what matters to them and their local communities.

The PSB has developed its Well-being Objectives and draft actions to deliver them, based on feedback received on its Well-being Assessment. The results of a survey at that time gathered views and helped shape the PSB’s understanding of the economic, social, environmental, and cultural factors that impact the well-being of individuals and communities within Carmarthenshire.

Once again, residents are being asked to contribute to help public service partners develop Carmarthenshire’s Local Well-being Plan for 2023-28.

To help shape the future of well-being please visit: Current Consultations (gov.wales)

The survey closes on 25 January 2023.

Cllr Darren Price, Chair of the Carmarthenshire PSB and Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, said: “To deliver what is important to our communities, we need to their feedback and input. This survey is an opportunity for our residents to tell us if we, as public services, are on the right track to help create a better future for our children’s generation, and the generations to follow, as we strive to reach this goal.” 

Andrew Cornish, Vice-Chair of the PSB andChief Executive Officer / Principal of Coleg Sir Gar and Coleg Ceredigion said: “Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our work so far. Our Well-being Assessment gives us a strong foundation on which to build our Well-being Plan and I would like to encourage everyone to take part in our involvement work for the preparation of the Plan.”

Carmarthenshire’s Public Services Board is a partnership of public and third sector organisations working together to improve well-being across the county and includes Carmarthenshire County Council, Hywel Dda University Health Board, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Natural Resources Wales and other organisations.

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Llanelli prepares for Sunday’s Remembrance Day parade

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LATER TODAY (Sunday, November 13) the town will honour those who have fallen in service over the decades.

A number of roads will be closed on the day, including Murray Street, Church Street and Vauxhall Road from its junction with the mini roundabout.

These will be shut for the parade between 8.30am and noon, however, pedestrian access for those wishing to reach individual properties in those streets will be maintained where possible throughout the duration of the closure.

Traffic will be diverted to Robinson Street, Arthur Street, Columbia Row, Anne Street, Bigyn Road, Stepney Place, Water Street, Thomas Street and Gelli Onn.

At 10am, police, organisations and others not marching in the parade will take up their respective positions in front of the cenotaph in the town hall grounds, while the civic party will assemble inside Llanelli Town Hall.

At 10.15am the parade leaves Drill Hall for the town hall with the mayor Cllr Philip Warlow proceeding to the Boer War Memorial where he will lay a wreath.

When the parade arrives at the town hall, the civic party will proceed to the cenotaph where the Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed Sara Edwards, will lay a wreath.

This will be followed by the chair of Carmarthenshire Council Cllr Rob Evans, laying a wreath on the Royal Welch War Memorial and then on the town’s cenotaph.

More wreaths will be laid by dignitaries and politicians and ex-servicemen and women A two-minute silence will then be observed at 11am.

Any service groups or individuals who wish to lay a wreath on Remembrance Sunday can contact Paul Wickers via email at llanlva2009@aol.com.

While community organisations are to contact Llanelli Town Council at enquiries@llanellitowncouncil.gov.uk.

Contact should be made by Monday, October 31 at the very latest to confirm arrangements as no additional wreaths will be able to be accommodated on the day.

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Llanelli choir launches fundraising naked calendar

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MEMBERS of a Llanelli female choir have bared all to raise money for the town’s Ty Bryngwyn Hospice.  

Côr Curiad has created a cheeky fundraising calendar for 2023 – the second one they have done.

With around 50 members, photos were taken across Llanelli with strategically placed items to spare their blushes – all in the name of a good cause.

Llanelli photographer Graham Harries was behind the lens for the project.

The choir’s musical director Alex Esney, who is Miss December in the calendar said: “Local businesses sponsored the calendar and so many of the photos were taken at their premises.

“So for example we went to LTC Mobility Ltd and had scooters carefully positioned in front of us, it was a lot of fun.

“I also want to thank Ffwrnes Theatre for opening up especially for me to go and have my photo taken with the piano there.”

Alex said the aim is to raise as much as possible for the hospice, adding: “We did a calendar a few years ago but we now have more members so we thought it was time to do it all again.

“The ladies decided to ‘bare all’ to raise money for the hospice which provides such great care and support for families in their time of need, including two of our own.

“I think we pulled out all the stops this year, getting their clothes off at local businesses in and around Llanelli.”

One of the calendar photos (Images: Graham Harries Photography)
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