A new inspection report from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has criticised Dyfed-Powys Police over its handling of cases involving children.
In their inspection, HMIC found significant delays in the investigation of child protection cases. The force were also criticised after children were being unnecessarily detained in police custody overnight and there was a lack of understanding of the extent of child sexual exploitation.
However, Inspectors also noted a strong commitment to improving child protection and staff were dedicated to providing the best possible outcomes for children.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Dru Sharpling said: “I was pleased to find that Dyfed-Powys Police has a strong commitment to improving the protection of children. It was evident from our inspection that staff were highly committed and that officers were quick in their initial response to issues of child safety.
“However, there is room for improvement in some important areas. For instance, a number of the cases we looked at where children had gone missing from home showed that the risk of child sexual exploitation had not been considered. In one case this resulted in children being referred to as ‘attention seekers’ which left them exposed to the risk of sexual exploitation.
“Dyfed-Powys needs to reduce the delays in investigations. We found in a number of cases that despite good initial investigative work, too often there were delays that would have an impact on the welfare of the children.
“I encourage Dyfed-Powys Police to act on our recommendations as a matter of urgency, and I have asked that within six weeks it provides me with an action plan to demonstrate how it will take forward our recommendations for improvement”.
Over the next two years HMIC will assess how effectively each force in England and Wales safeguards children and young people at risk, make recommendations to forces for improving child protection practice, highlight effective practice in child protection work and drive improvements in forces’ child protection practice.