New guidance for police on spotting at-risk children

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A practical guide to help police officers identify and support children and families at risk of long-term harm at the earliest opportunity has been launched.

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The new guidance is designed to help police officers identify children at risk of long-term harm

 ‘Early intervention: a guide for frontline police officers and PCSOS’, features advice for frontline police on how to identify children, young people and families needing support, and ways in which they can respond effectively.

It has been developed by the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) and College of Policing in consultation with police officers, and is the first in a series of Early Intervention guides for professionals in contact with children and families.  

Included within the guidance is a number of warning signs that could indicate a child or family needs help, such as poor living conditions, disengagement from school, domestic abuse, and aggressive and confrontational behaviour.

There are also examples of how local police officers are working with partners to spot risk factors and offer help.

The aim of the guide is to help police officers prevent crime and other problems by intervening as early as possible.

According to an analysis by the EIF, dealing with young offenders, domestic violence where children are present, and anti-social behaviour costs public services an estimated £5.2 billion a year- £1.8 billion of which falls to the police.

On top of this, the Foundation says that a significant proportion of police call-outs are related to wider social problems, including mental health and other welfare concerns.

Carey Oppenheim, chief executive of the Early Intervention Foundation, said, ‘Early intervention needs to be embedded in the work of all frontline professionals, it’s not just something early intervention workers or teams do. The first worker in the door or who makes contact needs to know what to look out for and how to respond.

‘All too often the police may be the first agency to come into contact with a parent, child or family needing help. It is vital that they are equipped to work alongside health and children’s services, schools and others sharing intelligence and ensuring the right support if given at the earliest opportunity.

‘This is about easing the burden on police by reducing the likelihood that problems will escalate. It’s about working in partnership to make sure that families get support that enables them to change their behaviour and lifestyle. That will mean not only less crime, but also children with much better life chances.’

  • For a copy of 'Early Intervention: a guide for frontline police officers and PCSOS', contact the EIF.
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