A query was asked of the NWG national police virtual network………
The enquirer has had issues with health worker disclosures during multi agency CSE meetings. Recently health workers have disclosed information which constitutes a crime and therefore in line with Home Office Counting Rules, police were obliged to crime the information.
The crimes are not necessarily investigated (i.e. two males in a “consensual relationship” and police are recording for information purposes). This has unnerved partners. The Police have explained to their colleagues the police processes, however the police are now concerned that information will not be shared within the panel for fear of police processes.
Six areas responded outlining that they had similar issues around criming and willingness to share. Additionally, other areas responded with views on the subject;
- One area commented that this phenomenon is not new and is prevalent throughout vulnerability derived crime recording. Statutory partners have a duty to disclose. Agencies need to place their trust in one another which if missing perhaps merely needs some re-invigoration through engagement. The MASH in this area is at any one time carrying around 500 recorded crimes, which have fallen out of strategy discussions, DASH forms, ED attendance, GUM clinic attendance. If this has been disclosed at a CSE meeting, then presumably it involves a CYP and then presumably a strategy discussion has been held? Within that strategy discussion the Police would be articulating their intention to record but not investigate with whatever accompanying rationale. That multi-agency agreement between statutory partners should be enough reassurance.
- Another area outlined that if a crime is recorded it requires an investigation and an outcome. The scale/nature of investigation must be appropriate in the circumstances and the outcome may not necessarily be a criminal justice outcome (eg outcome 21 for children involved in sexting each other). Partners need to be reassured that Police will act in a sensitive, proportionate and measured way but must investigate to ensure there are no aggravating features present such as coercion, financial gain etc. and the allegation is not false. The fact that two people are in a consenting relationship clearly does not mean no criminal justice outcome is always appropriate and in the public interest. A crime needs to be investigated otherwise we can never be sure that the full facts are known, and false allegations could be made against an individual and never disproved with all the implications that will bring for the person concerned eg DBS check later in life.
- Another area commented that they have had numerous problems in relation to this issue and also within schools for Peer on Peer images/sexual experimentation. Even though the police explained there is some difference between recording a crime and investigating it, partners are still concerned about the long-term effects on the “suspects” future re DBS etc. The police explained that these investigations can be withheld from DBS disclosures on the authorisation of the home forces review and disclosure team. The investigating officer can also make reference to this in their report on the crime. It has been a case of explaining the balance between protecting young people against future crime, if the suspect moves into a new area and continues to offend, then information can be shared between relevant professionals. All Police forces can check across each other’s systems with a simple enquiry. There is now an understanding between professionals that this is the case, and the police are guided by the home office principles.
- Another area outlined that the police approached this issue through the prism of a joint protocol which was a whole partnership document with signatories. The force record CSE concerns as well as substantive crimes on their crime reporting system and the reason for this (i.e. to detail all investigative and safeguarding plans and activities) was explained and welcomed. It was then strengthened through the MASE partnerships where concerns about individual cases can be discussed. There have obviously been some occasions where reluctance to share occurred, but this has been more from third sector with Health key partners and fully engaged.
- Finally two areas outlined that similar issues exist within the MARAC process, The general consensus is the police must comply with HOCR principles but if the police explain the process the police have to adhere to, partner agencies will build up a trust and share information accordingly.
Kay Wallace NWG Response Unit Police & Justice Lead