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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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Health

Those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster should get jabbed by end of June

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ALL those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster are being urged to take up their offer of the vaccine before the end of next month.

A deadline of 30 June has been introduced to ensure all those eligible for the spring booster will have a long-enough interval between this and the autumn 2022 booster, if they are also eligible.

An announcement by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) about which groups will be eligible for the autumn booster is due to be published shortly.

The JCVI has advised that people over-75, older care home residents and all those aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed are eligible for the spring booster.

Those who are 75 on or before 30 June, can get their booster at any point up to the deadline.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “It is important we continue our very high take up levels of the vaccine to help protect us against the risk of serious illness from Covid-19. I would urge everyone who is offered a spring booster vaccination takes up the invitation.”

If someone eligible for a spring booster has had a Covid infection recently, they will need to wait 28 days from the date they tested positive before they can be vaccinated. They will still be able to get vaccinated after 30 June as part of this campaign if they have to postpone their appointment.

All those eligible for spring boosters will be invited by their health board or GP.

It is not too late for anyone who needs a primary dose (first, second or third) to be vaccinated.

Please check for local arrangements.

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Health

Young people in Wales being failed when moving from child to adult mental health services

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MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES are failing young people when they move from child to adult services, says a mental health charity.

Mind Cymru is calling for Welsh Government to make urgent changes to improve the system.

Nia Evans, Children and Young People Manager at Mind Cymru, said: “Young people have told us that their needs, thoughts, and feelings about moving to adult services are often unheard, or ignored.

“Welsh Government must support Local Health Boards to make sure this doesn’t happen, change the way services are run and make sure our young people are being heard and properly cared for.”

Mind Cymru has published a report, in ate the result of interviews with young people about their experiences of moving from Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services – (SCAMHS) to AMHS.

They highlighted five key areas where services are failing young people:
– Poor information offered to young people, particularly on their rights
– Inconsistent use and follow through of care and treatment plans
– High thresholds for SCAMHS and AMHS referrals to be accepted
– Feeling abandoned / cut off from SCAMHS
– Age still dominates decision making process for moving from SCAMHS to AMHS

Nia Evans said: “Any one of these issues could make the process of moving from children’s services to adult services difficult for our young people. But often, more than one is happening at any one time.”

“Our young people have a right to care and support from a mental health system that has been put in place to help them recover. Action must be taken immediately to make sure support systems are robust and doing the job they were designed to do.”

Mind Cymru is asking people to email their Member of the Senedd (MS) and amplify the voices of these young people whose experiences are often unheard, and use the #SortTheSwitch hashtag on social media.

The full report is available here, including what a good move from SCAMHS to AMHS would look like for young people, and where the current system could improve.

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Business

Average UK price of diesel hits record of more than £1.80 a litre

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LESS than two months after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a 5p a litre cut on the average price of fuel – diesel prices have reached a record high price of 180.29p a litre.
The previous high of 179.90p was recorded on March 23rd 2022 – the day of the Spring Statement from Sunak.

In recent weeks, the UK government has tried to move away from its reliance on importing Russian oil, following President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Worryingly for drivers of petrol cars, the price per litre is fast approaching the record levels of 167.3p per litre set on March 22nd.

This latest price rise adds another challenge to UK households, as the cost of living crisis continues to impact families across the country.

RAC fuel spokesperson Simon Williams said: “Sadly, despite the Chancellor’s 5p a litre duty cut the average price of a litre of diesel has hit a new record high at 180.29p.”

“Efforts to move away from importing Russian diesel have led to a tightening of supply and pushed up the price retailers pay for diesel.”

“While the wholesale price has eased in the last few days this is likely to be temporary, especially if the EU agrees to ban imports of Russian oil.”

“Unfortunately, drivers with diesel vehicles need to brace themselves for yet more pain at the pumps. Had Mr Sunak reduced VAT to 15% as we call on him to do instead of cutting duty by 5p, drivers of diesel vehicles would be around 2p a litre better off, or £1 for every full tank.”

“As it is, drivers are still paying 27p VAT on petrol and 29p on diesel, which is just the same as before the Spring Statement.”

“The average price of petrol is also on the rise having gone up nearly 3p a litre since the start of the month to 166.65p which means it’s less than a penny away from the all-time high of 167.30p set on 22 March.”

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