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News Report Page 11 of 46
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Merseyside Police committed to child protection, but backlog has 'serious impact' on sex offender management

MERSEYSIDE Police's sex offender unit is failing to visit high risk sex offenders as often as it should, according to a report published this week by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

The Policing Inspectorate found that Merseyside Police had a backlog of almost 100 overdue visits to registered sex offenders. It cites heavy workloads and poor communication with neighbourhood Police Officers as reasons why the Force is struggling to manage the risk posed by sex offenders.

The report concludes that despite showing a strong commitment to child protection and safeguarding, the inspection showed that much more work is needed to ensure consistent improvements in outcomes for vulnerable children.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said:- "I am encouraged to see that Merseyside Police is committed to doing more to keep children safe. When the Force's own case audit showed failings in how it responds to child protection incidents, it took quick and decisive action to tackle the problem head on. This shows me that safeguarding children is a real priority for the service. But there is still plenty of room for improvement. At the time of our inspection, Merseyside Police's sex offender unit was seriously overstretched. Offender managers were individually responsible for up to 100 registered sex offenders; double what we would like to see. This had a serious impact on the Force's ability to manage sex offenders. Too often, Offender Managers were playing catch up and couldn't prioritise preventative work. Neighbourhood Policing Teams were often unaware of sex offenders living in their communities. And it was particularly concerning to see that the Force's records show a backlog of 98 overdue visits to registered sex offenders. This is an area that requires real improvement before I can be confident that Merseyside Police is meeting its duty to keep children safe. That said, there were other areas where we did find evidence of good practice. The Force carries out investigations to a good standard and uses Police protection powers appropriately to safeguard children. I am reassured by Merseyside Police's recent efforts to do more to make sure every child is safe from harm, and I look forward to seeing its next steps."

Inspectors were pleased to find that Merseyside Police:-

►  Has strong and effective partnership arrangements with the five local authorities in the Force area.

►  Has extensive welfare support for members of the workForce dealing with child protection cases.

►  Has renewed its efforts to improve the awareness of staff about vulnerability and their safeguarding responsibilities.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:-

►  The Force's recording of strategy meeting outcomes and joint planning actions is inconsistent.

►  There are often delays in the attendance of appropriate adults to support the overall welfare needs, rights and entitlements of detained children.

►  Performance measures are currently based on the number of child protection incidents and cases, rather than outcomes for victims.

Merseyside Police Assistant Chief Constable Serena Kennedy, said:- "Merseyside Police is dedicated to the protection and safeguarding of children across the county and I fully acknowledge the report's findings. I think it's important to stress during a self assessment carried out by the Force, prior to the inspection, the Force had identified the majority of issues subsequently highlighted within the inspection report and work to address these issues was already underway, which has been recognised by HMICFRS. I note the specific reference to sex offender management and can reassure the public that we recognise the importance of managing sex offenders appropriately and continually review our Policies, processes and the training given to staff to ensure they are able to assess and manage the risk posed by individual offenders. Despite a 25% decrease in the number of Police Officers, since 2011, the Force has not cut any posts from the Sex Offender Unit so that it can deal with the increasing work demand placed on the unit. To increase its effectiveness the team is co-located with representatives from Probation. Within the last 9 years the number of registered sex offenders on Merseyside has doubled. As a result the Force is looking at how it can increase its capaCity through the provision of extra staff and demand management. Protecting children, especially those who are most vulnerable, is one of the most important things we do as a Police Force and we are determined to improve. The HMICFRS report concludes that the Force 'has demonstrated its commitment to children during our inspection. It has reviewed its practice and responded to emerging risks. We are therefore confident that the Force is working to improve both its support for, and engagement with, those children who need help and protection.' The HMICFRs itself has recognised that work was already underway to tackle some of the issues raised, which demonstrates our understanding of the work to be undertaken and our continued determination to improve child protection in Merseyside. HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said he was 'encouraged to see that Merseyside Police is committed to doing more to keep children safe. When the Force's own case audit showed failings in how it responds to child protection incidents, it took quick and decisive action to tackle the problem head on. This shows me that safeguarding children is a real priority for the service.'"

ACC Kennedy, added:- "The inspection report notes that there 'is strong evidence of work progressing at a senior level to improve the Force's ability to manage the risks affecting children. This commitment is also reflected in the strong and effective partnership working found across the 5 local authorities in the Force area.' We acknowledge the learning required from the recommendations in the report and are working with the HMICFRS and partners to ensure that we provide effective safeguarding and protection for children throughout Merseyside."

Do you agree with the findings and what are your views on this? Please email your thoughts about this to:- News24@SouthportReporter.Com.

Parents reveal they pay out hundred in 'hidden' School extras

PARENTS in Britain say they will pay an average of ₤323 to cover extra costs over the course of the new School year. Mums and dads already struggling with the back to School bill say the pain continues when they shell out for School trips, replacement uniforms and items for projects. The vast majority (85%) of parents say they will be hit with extra School costs between now and the next summer holidays. Parents in the East Midlands are worst hit when it comes to paying School extras, stumping up an average of ₤380.

Mums and dads in the East of England say they shell out another ₤360, while those in the South East of England pay an extra ₤330 during the academic year, according to a survey for Coinstar. Yet parents in the West Midlands say they get off relatively lightly, spending just ₤245 during the year.

Mums and dads with children aged between 5 and 7 say they pay an extra ₤380 during the year, while the least painful years are in the 6th form, when parents pay an extra ₤270. But survey also discovered that parents of pupils working towards their GCSE's often pay up the most, with an average of ₤400 extra during the year!

The study also found that 45% of British parents say the cost of sending their children to School is rising all the time compared with just over a quarter (26%) who believe it is staying the same.

The survey showed that parents foot the School bills by borrowing money from grandparents (27%), delaying credit card repayments (25%), going into overdraft (23%) and dipping into their children's savings.

Nick Harris, vice president of European operations, Coinstar Limited, said:- "School shopping can put stress on household finances, especially as costs rise. The Coinstar survey revealed that British parents are resourceful and are finding ways to meet this budget challenge."

We would like to know what hidden bills our readers have to pay when it comes to School and education, so please drop us an email with your views on this issue. Do 'hidden' costs affect you? Please email us now to:- News24@SouthportReporter.Com.

* Coinstar Limited, based in Bath, England, is a subsidiary of Coinstar LLC. They commissioned the survey that was conducted online by Atomik Research among 1,002 UK adults, with School aged children and in higher education, between 5 to 18. The research fieldwork took place between 16 July and 18 July 2018. Atomik Research is an independent creative market research agency that employs MRS certified researchers and abides to MRS code.

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