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Chief super in vulnerability training call for officers

President of the Chief Superintendents Association of England and Wales says officers should have a public protection licence
Published - 05/09/2016 By - John Toner - Police Oracle

Police officers who work with vulnerable members of the public should "require a licence to practice".

That is the view of Gavin Thomas, President of the Chief Superintendents Association of England and Wales (CSAEW), who will call for training and development to become the norm.

He says officers protecting children, victims of domestic abuse, the elderly and other people at risk have no agreed national standards to adhere to and often have no prior experience in the field.

Ch Supt Thomas will set out his message in front of the new policing minister Brandon Lewis at the CSAEW annual conference tomorrow.

He will say: "Vulnerability is one of the new volume demands that will define our service and what do we for years to come.

“We have standards, accreditation and skills to practice in firearms, public order and driving patrol cars.

“But currently there is no such requirement for protecting children and vulnerable people.

“Superintendents are carrying significant amounts of responsibility and must have the training and development to do their jobs effectively. It is a highly skilled specialism and should require a licence to practice.”

Earlier this year the association conducted a review of the 70 staff who lead on public protection within their various forces across the country.

The report highlighted that 48 per cent had no previous experience of public protection, 82 per cent had been given no training and 65 per cent of officers surveyed feel the current public protection unit model is unsustainable.

Ch Supt Thomas will also call for a common definition of vulnerability and a review of the current Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) models.

He will say: “There is no standard definition that all public services are working to. It cannot be right that a missing person in one area might not be defined as a missing person in another area.

“Policing, education, health, social care, probation and the charity and voluntary sectors must work to the same understanding, the same criteria and the same standard.

“The public have a right to expect this and I would struggle to explain why it is not the case.

“The MASH should be at the centre of partnerships, working together to protect the most vulnerable in our society.

“Yet across England and Wales they are very different in how they are organised, operate and share what is absolutely critical.

“They have information and intelligence that could save life and prevent harm.

“Yet it takes a serious case review or enquiry into the death of a child or vulnerable adult before the full picture of the risk is known, and which agency had what information that if shared might have been able to prevent that tragedy.  

“If we have consistency and a standard it will go some way to how we ensuring the right professional can make the right decision at the right time, because they have the right information.”

“This is not an easy fix. It is a complicated picture that requires cross-agency and cross-government commitment.

“But the prize, if we prevent even one child from harm or one adult from exploitation, must be worth it.”

The PSAEW has previously made calls for public protection work to be recognised as a specialism in the same way as firearms and public order and Ch Supt Thomas will continue this drive during his speech to conference tomorrow afternoon.

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