Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has demanded further action after inspectors found:
- Officers failed to recognise children at risk of exploitation despite clear warning signs.
- Lack of training had resulted in ‘poor investigations’.
- 250 sex offender checks were not carried out.
- Year-long delays for analysis of computers and other electronic devices in a huge backlog.
- Children went missing more than 10 times without any action to protect them.
- And youths are unnecessarily being kept overnight in cells.
Seventeen out of 21 cases of child sex exploitation looked at by inspectors were deemed to be be ‘inadequate’ or ‘required improvement’. The revelations led to West Midlands MEP Bill Etheridge to ask: “What they hell is going on? These crimes are the worst in society and the police need to do everything they can to root it out and we expect them to do it professionally and exceptionally. If we haven’t got the right people for the job, then we need to get rid of them and get someone else in.”
The inspectors’ report said some improvements have been made over the past 12 months. However, it revealed there are 720 children identified as at risk of sexual abuse in the area and that police chiefs had increased the number of dedicated to its public protection unit by 370 officers plus 16 support staff.
Similar shortcomings by West Midlands Police, which is led by Chief Constable Chris Sims, in dealing with child protection were highlighted by inspectors in 2014.