Sussex child protection teams ‘battling heavy workload’

Sussex child protection teams ‘battling heavy workload’

Police working with missing and vulnerable children have got too much work to do and need more support, the Sussex Police Federation has said.

It follows an inspectors’ report which found some Sussex Police staff had more than 20 investigations each.

Inspectors revisited Sussex after it was told to improve its work on missing children and managing investigations.

They found the force had improved but issues remained. Sussex Police said it was taking further steps.

Specific areas targeted for improvement in 2018 included:

  • Recording observations of children’s demeanour, such as whether they seemed happy or sad.
  • Not saying there was “no apparent risk” for children reported missing, if there were any risk factors.
  • Reviewing its investigations centre to ensure child protection cases were being managed effectively.

post-inspection review this year found more staff had been appointed to public protection although capacity remained a concern for leaders, the force had established an audit process to monitor child protection and there was evidence of officers “talking to children to understand their concerns and inform decisions”.

Matt Webb, from the Sussex Police Federation, said the federation was working with the force to alleviate workload issues and welcomed a national increase in officers, a higher police precept, additional investigators and work to monitor staff wellbeing.

He said: “The fact that the public protection team have a large number of reports each to investigate can’t be beneficial to the investigations, can’t be good for the victims, and can’t be good for the individuals trying to complete them.

“Officers are doing their best to achieve a successful outcome in some very complex cases and need as much support as we can give them.”

Det Ch Con Jo Shiner said: “We are clear in our commitment to protecting vulnerable children and have made it a priority.

“Our next steps are to continue to focus on the child and to further embed the culture of prioritising child protection.”

HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoe Billingham said Sussex had taken action but added: “Further work is needed to fully embed some of the changes.”

BBC News