Steven Kavanagh said: “It is a profoundly disappointing report but a huge amount of work has been underway for the last two years and more to improve how Essex Police protects vulnerable people.
“I welcome the direction we’ve been given on where we must make further changes and improve the protection we provide.
“The report clearly recognises our commitment to improvement and, more importantly, finds encouraging the progress we’ve made since that inspection six months ago.
“The report also highlights that, in the cases where we identify the highest risk, our response is good.
“No area of Essex Police has been subject to more investment, change and training than the areas which deal most often with these evil crimes. For decades these crimes and the hurt and tragedy they bring have been hidden from public consciousness.
“They may be hidden but we need to make sure we are looking for them because they cause psychological, financial, sexual and emotional scars.
“These are the hardest crimes to deal with and they have required officers to develop a whole new range of skills.
“The journey to improve what we do takes time and there will be difficulties and frustration during that journey. But the way we deal with domestic abuse and protect vulnerable people in Essex has changed a great deal in the past few years and even in the six months since we were inspected.
“• We now arrest and charge more people for domestic abuse than many other police forces.
“• We have used protection orders to keep almost 500 victims of domestic abuse safe and 18 people have been sent to prison for breaching those orders.
“• Specialist teams work alongside our partners in the county to identify and protect victims of domestic abuse and child sexual exploitation.
“• When inspected, we had 247 incidents of domestic abuse awaiting allocation – a three-day backlog with 80 new incidents coming in every day. Our work has reduced that by over 85%
“• We have pioneered the use of body-worn video cameras to help capture evidence of abuse and used Clare’s Law to tell people about partners who could put them at risk.
“• We have introduced a special team to look at incidents specifically involving children to identify their risk of sexual exploitation (CSE) and make sure those assessments are acted upon.
• We have established effective daily processes to review missing children and co-ordinate activity across the force to ensure they are found quickly.
• We have a number of multi-agency meetings to discuss individual cases of those children who are most at risk of CSE to ensure there is an effective partnership response.
Despite all of that though, to do good we have to be good. We recognise that our cultures and our processes must continue to change.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has identified a number of serious flaws in some of the ways we work. Of most concern is how we protect young people who might be extremely difficult to deal with but who need our help the most.
In September, Essex Police was also subject to HMIC’s national Child Protection inspection. The findings of this inspection have yet to be published but, given the links between vulnerability and child protection, we already know we will have further work to do.
But we are making progress. We respond to 80 calls a day about domestic abuse from victims or worried friends and relatives and we must make sure they are all assessed and dealt with appropriately.
We must also make sure that children are protected and safeguarded from sexual exploitation, whatever the circumstances.
We are working hard to embed this culture across the force so that every police officer and staff member who comes into contact with such victims knows what is at stake.
By March, more than 600 officers will have been through an intensive public protection training course and all front-line officers will be trained as soon as possible.
This is a societal problem, one that policing alone can’t fix. We will continue to work closely with our partners to improve our information-sharing and ensure we have the best possible picture of the risk to victims.
We will continue to ask victims and survivors to help shape the way we tackle all forms of abuse.
It will take time to fix what policing nationally has failed in across decades and the work we need to do to fix these issues is already underway.
The plans, the people and the training we have put in place give me considerable confidence that inspectors will see significant improvement when they return in January.
With evil crimes like this, we can’t afford the risk of letting victims down, but every day I see and hear stories of us doing the right thing, asking the right questions, taking the right actions and getting evil predators away from vulnerable people.
I give the people of Essex my commitment that we will not rest until we have improved our culture as a force and the processes by which we work. If you are at risk of abuse or experiencing it, or know someone who is, then please call us. We will do everything we can to help protect you.
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