A report setting out progress made in improving relationships between children and the police since the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC) inquiry in 2013-14. It sets out a final set of recommendations for government, policing leaders, and youth justice bodies.
The APPGC report, Building Trust: One year on Progress in improving relationships between children and the police examines the positive actions taken to strengthen the policy and legislative framework that governs police forces’ work with children and young people over the past year. The report recommendations include changes in police procedures so that some incidents, such as “sexting” or fighting in residential children’s homes, can be dealt with in a different way by the police.
The report highlights that current Home Office rules allow police officers only limited options when recording criminal behaviour so that many children end up with a criminal record or a record that may be disclosed within an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check.
“One police force that is already developing a new approach to dealing with sexting. In all cases, the Safeguarding Referral Unit carries out an initial risk assessment and investigation to rule out coercion, blackmail, age difference or adult involvement. Once the force is satisfied the behaviour is ‘experimental’ and not ‘aggravated’ (where an adult is involved or where there is intent to harm or images are taken without consent), the case is referred to the Safer Schools Team to provide education and support.” [p.11]
In such cases, the APPGC wants police to have greater discretion to refer a child to another welfare agency to resolve the matter.
The APPGC recommendations include a national protocol to be adopted by the Home Office to reduce the prosecution of children in care, and bring National Crime Recording Standards and Home Office Counting Rules for children’s homes in line with those for schools.
“The APPGC also recommend that the Home Office review their Counting Rules and develop a new outcome, which allows police forces to record low-level crime-related behaviour (such as sexting in a way that would allow for the child’s behaviour to be addressed by a welfare agency but without the incident forming part of a young person’s criminal record or being disclosed within an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check. This could be a new recording category of ‘referral for other agency support and intervention’.”[p.11]
Read the APPGC’s Building Trust: One year on, Nov 2015