Police Officer in the Child Protection Team
I believe we all have a responsibility to ensure children and young people are safe from harm and neglect. I am part of a specialist team which investigates reports of abuse against children under 18 occurring within family relationships or by professionals or carers and also other cases in which children and young people have been involved as victims or witnesses.
Our team collaborates with a range of different local agencies during the course of our investigations but primarily we work jointly with children’s social work teams, probation services and health services. We are responsible for any criminal investigation and children’s social care will look at whether there are other issues around keeping the child safe from further harm, which may require further protection measures to be put in place.
It is crucial that other agencies share the information they hold to enable us to carry out our statutory duties. Equally it is vital that our team shares information and intelligence necessary to protect children.
In addition to our duty to investigate criminal offences, the police have emergency powers to enter premises and ensure the immediate protection of children believed to be suffering from, or at risk of, significant harm. We will then take the child to a place of safety and again work in collaboration with children’s social work teams who assess the circumstances of the case and make decisions on the future care of the child.
Although it is our responsibility to instigate criminal proceedings, we always seek the views of the child or young person involved alongside agencies such as social services and the Crown Prosecution Service. A decision about whether or not to proceed is based on what is in the best interests of the child or young person.
We also investigate cases of organised abuse and the activity of people who use the internet and other means to distribute and collect abusive and indecent images of children. Dealing with individuals who are registered sex offenders and other offenders who are regarded as a potential danger to the community is another important part of our role.
I regularly attend multi-agency public protection panel meetings where risk assessments on individuals who may pose a danger to children and others living in the community are discussed and relevant information is shared.
Staff in the Child Protection Team are specially selected for their skills in dealing with complex and sensitive crime. I have received comprehensive specialist training to enhance my skills including how to interview vulnerable victims and witnesses, how to investigate child abuse and sex offences and how to prepare a complex case for court.