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Suffolk and Essex Police service to the vulnerable is criticised by HMIC

Suffolk Chief Constable Gareth Wilson ANL-150224-163502001
Suffolk Chief Constable Gareth Wilson ANL-150224-163502001

Suffolk Police have been commended by HM Inspector of Constabulary for preventing crime though their approach to protecting the vulnerable requires improvement.

But Essex Police have been told to improve their effectiveness in preventing and reducing crime and anti-social behaviour, while their protection of the vulnerable is rated ‘inadequate’.

The report released yesterday rated Suffolk as ‘good’ at reducing and preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, its effectiveness and its ‘legitimacy’ in the way it works.

But under ‘effectiveness’ the report says: “Suffolk Constabulary generally provides a good service in identifying vulnerable people and responds well to them. However, there are several areas where improvement is needed.”

It says the force generally investigates crimes against the vulnerable well, but adds: “The caseload within the teams who deal with rape and child abuse investigations are on occasions unacceptably high, and can become unmanageable.”

The NSPCC said it was concerned about the workload adding: “This can lead to delays in investigation and a reduced service to the victim. Vital opportunities to protect vulnerable children or identify a potential risk of sexual exploitation may be missed.”

Suffolk Police say eight additional detectives and 12 staff investigators have been added to the protecting vulnerable people directorate over the last year.

Suffolk Chief Constable Gareth Wilson said: “We recognised the significant increase in reported crime involving vulnerability and have taken a range of steps towards strengthening our resources.

“Our improved financial position following the Government’s autumn statement and the PCC’s decision to raise the council tax precept means that we can strengthen our teams even further.”

Essex Police were rated as ‘needing improvement’ for preventing and investigating crime, with its approach to the vulnerable labelled ‘inadequate’.

The HMIC said: “The force’s response to victims of domestic abuse is a cause of concern to HMIC because of a lack of effective and reliable force processes to respond to and safeguard victims.

“The force needs to improve its processes for the identification of and response to children affected by domestic abuse.”

They were rated good for effectiveness, though their use of resources to meet demand was ‘needing improvement’, and the force was good under all legitimacy categories.

Deputy Chief Constable Matthew Horne said: “We accept the report’s criticisms of the force’s work protecting vulnerable people including children and victims of domestic abuse.

“This is our highest priority and inspections last year, which led to this report and one yet to be published on child protection, have already been met with significant improvements.”

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