20 April 2017

How do you respond to the needs of vulnerable people?

‘Improving the skills and status of police officers and staff to enable them to deal more effectively with the needs of vulnerable people ’

Police Transformation Fund (PTF)  vulnerability project overview:

We have been awarded police transformation funding to accelerate four key elements of work in the area of vulnerability. Forces have been doing fantastic work to make vulnerable people safe. We now plan to develop products to help you make more people safe and support the professionalisation of this high-risk area of policing:

  • Vulnerability training: Develop and introduce comprehensive vulnerability training for all frontline police officers to identify signs of vulnerability and provide better support to victims.
  • Licence to Practise: Pilot a licence to practise approach for child sexual abuse (CSA) investigations to improve the status of officers and staff carrying out these challenging roles and demonstrate the police service’s commitment to tackling CSA. This is the pathfinder for an approach to be considered for other areas of policing.
  • Specialist Child Abuse Investigator Development Programme: Strengthen the content and quality assurance of the course to improve forces’ CSA investigative capability to ensure investigators provide the best service to the public.
  • Continuing professional development (CPD): Develop and introduce CPD on CSA for chief officers and superintendents so that senior officers are able to support investigation in this high-risk area of policing. This is the pathfinder for an approach to be considered for other areas of policing

What do we mean by vulnerability?

Everyone can be vulnerable. Police officers and staff must deal with every vulnerable person they encounter and single vulnerability factors are rarely found. Because of this, we are using the THRIVE definition to underpin the approach to vulnerability:

'A person is vulnerable if as a result of their situation or circumstances, they are unable to take care of or protect themselves, or others, from harm or exploitation'

​Multiple vulnerabilities /poly-victimisation

Research has identified that a person rarely has one vulnerability – instead, they have many. Our tendency to focus on the single, most obvious vulnerability can lead to missed risk indicators and missed opportunities to make people safer.

By looking at the person through an investigative lens, not just dealing with their obvious vulnerability, police officers and staff may identify multiple vulnerabilities and situational factors, such as a perpetrator or isolation, that affect their vulnerabilities. All of these work together to create their risk of harm.

Why a new approach?

A lot of great work is being done by police officers and staff dealing with the increasing demand of safeguarding and protective services. We are undertaking these four work-streams to enable
officers to deal even more effectively with the needs of vulnerable people.

Police officers and staff deal with vulnerable people on a day-to-day basis. These people rarely fit into a single neat category, but have multiple complex needs that need to be recognised and dealt with. Our approach to vulnerability recognises that each vulnerable person needs something different to support them. We hope the four work-streams will help you to be even more effective in your work and make people safer.


The approach

Person + situation = harm/risk of harm

S I T U A T I O N 

The approach we will be using focusses on addressing the individual and their situation/environment separately. Any person could be vulnerable – it is the situation/environment, acting with the person’s specific vulnerabilities, that can make that person suffer harm or be at risk of harm.
An example: A person suffering from mental ill health may be vulnerable, but their environment can be managed by the person themselves, their family, local authority etc. It is when the environmental controls fail (such as the actions of a criminal) or do not exist that the vulnerable person suffers harm or becomes at risk of harm.

Police officers and staff most often encounter people who have suffered harm or who are at risk of harm.
Their role will often be to deal with the environmental features that create the immediate risk of harm, such as arresting the suspect. They must also work in an integrated way with other organisations to reduce or remove risk of harm.

So, what can we do to prevent the failure of environmental controls and therefore prevent the
vulnerable person from being harmed? By identifying vulnerabilities early on, working with partner organisations, we can prevent harm occurring. You are not alone! Police officers and staff are not doctors, teachers or social workers. There are many services available to support you in your work.
We are making contact with other service deliverers to make sure that they understand the new
policing approach to vulnerability and what their role is in making vulnerable people safer.

Want to know more?

Email vulnerability@college.pnn.police.uk

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