Clockwise from left: Surrey Police car in Ashtead, Police and Crime Commissioner Kevin Hurley and Chief Constable Lynne Owens
Surrey Police has been branded ‘inadequate’ in protecting vulnerable people and investigating crimes committed against them.
From November: Surrey Police to slash £25million and cut 400 jobs despite rising reports of rape, domestic abuse and crimes against the vulnerable
A report from Government watchdog Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) published on Tuesday said it had serious concerns children in particular were not being adequately protected.
It said: “Child abuse investigations are being undertaken by insufficiently skilled and knowledgeable staff and are often of a poor standard leaving children at significant risk.
“Inspectors were concerned to find a lack of understanding of the signs of child sexual exploitation and an inconsistent response across the force.”
It also revealed ‘poor’ handling of reports of missing children and ‘poor’ approach to identifying children who are repeatedly reported as absent.
Surrey Police responded to the investigation – which was done in June – by saying it is investing ‘in the region of £4.9million’ to protect the vulnerable.
This will mean more than 90 extra officers and staff in this area, despite announcing in November it was to cut 400 jobs and £25 million over the next four years.
Chief Constable Lynne Owens said: “Our recent announcement of additional investment demonstrates how serious we are about continuing to make improvements and being able to respond effectively to the continuing increased reports of these types of crimes.
“These changes are already seeing results, for example this year we have already solved more than than 80 more child sexual exploitation cases than the same period last year.”
In November Surrey Police said it had received rising reports of rape, domestic abuse and incidents involving vulnerable people.
Police and Crime Commissioner Kevin Hurley said he was saddened the HMIC report ‘held no surprises’ for him.
He also said in June he requested Chief Constable Owens to prepare a plan for a formal scrutiny panel, but he found it to be unsatisfactory and he declined it.
He said: “I have been aware of these failings for many months.
“I found matters of serious concern in which the force had failed many victims of child sexual exploitation, rape and domestic abuse.
“In June, I required the Chief Constable to prepare a plan for a formal scrutiny panel showing how she would overcome these failings. The plan was unsatisfactory and I declined to accept it.
“Given that Surrey Police has seen large increases in the reporting of domestic violence, rape and child sexual exploitation I have taken measures recently to ensure that the force has the resources to improve its protection of vulnerable people.
“Some months ago, I also authorised expenditure of whatever reserves were necessary to put right these failings.”