Hertfordshire children "at risk from police failures"

PUBLISHED: 10:13 19 February 2016 | UPDATED: 11:38 19 February 2016

Police car

Police car

Archant

Police are putting Hertfordshire children at risk of sexual exploitation, a leading charity has warned after a critical official report.

Police are putting Hertfordshire children at risk of sexual exploitation, a leading charity has warned after a critical official report.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has expressed concerns over this week’s report, which graded the Hertfordshire force as “requires improvement” for looking after vulnerable people, in particular missing children.

Although giving the force an overall rating of “good”, a report published on Thursday by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary found: “There is good work from the small specialist team, but there is a lack of clarity over roles and responsibilities between frontline staff and the specialist units.”

A spokesman for the NSPCC said: “This may result in vital opportunities to protect vulnerable children, or identify a potential risk of sexual exploitation, to go missing.

“As more victims of child abuse and exploitation continue to come forward, it’s essential that all police forces are properly trained and equipped to respond to these most horrific of crimes.”

County councillor Chris White, Lib Dem police and crime commissioner candidate, said: “It is vital that there is improved clarity over who has responsibility for missing children. It is also essential that further work is done with local authorities and others in relation to child sexual exploitation.”

Police and crime commissioner David Lloyd said: “Whilst I am pleased with this good report for the constabulary, I am concerned that the force still has work to do in protecting vulnerable people – a key element of my Police and Crime Plan.

“I am reassured that recent investment of extra resources into specialist services that support those who are vulnerable and keep them safe has been recognised. “The report also recognised that the constabulary has made good progress since last year.”

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