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 ’

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

The College have been working hard on a number of activities to further improve policing's response to vulnerability, this follows the award of police transformation funding in late 2016. This work focussing on two key areas, vulnerability and more specifically, child sexual abuse (CSA).


The College of Policing has developed a one-day vulnerability training package, supported by a self-assessment health check. The training package supports a culture change in forces, encouraging front line officers and staff to look beyond the obvious and feel empowered to use their professional curiosity when dealing with those who are vulnerable.

The training focusses on early intervention by equipping front line officers and staff to identify signs of vulnerability and take effective action at the earliest possible opportunity. The shift in demand towards safeguarding and public protective services has driven this to be an essential piece of work which the College hope will lead to consistency across all forces. To enable consistency the College have adopted the THRIVE definition of vulnerability, which is being shared with all forces undertaking this training. The definition states that:

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.

The following equation underpins our approach:

Any person could be vulnerable – it is extrinsic factors acting with intrinsic factors that can make someone suffer or be at risk of harm. First responders most often encounter people when they have already suffered or are at risk of harm. In these situations, an officer's role is often to deal with environmental features creating the immediate risk of harm, such as arresting the suspect or enabling support from other people or organisations.

We can prevent the failure of environmental controls and protect vulnerable people from harm by identifying vulnerabilities early on and working with partner organisations. Police officers are not alone – there are many services and organisations who can work together to support this work with vulnerable people. 

 To support this culture shift, we have developed:

a one-day training package

  • This was piloted in 4 volunteer forces from July – August 2017
  • The pilot was evaluated by independent evaluators, identifying the impact on knowledge and attitudes
  • The training is being rolled out to 7 volunteer forces, with the expectation that it will reach nearly 10,000 officers by 31.03.2017
  • The course will be licenced to the 43 Home Office forces from 1 April 

a self-assessed health check

  • To supplement the vulnerability training package, the college has developed a Vulnerability Health Check to provide a self-assessment tool for forces. This will ensure forces have the necessary supporting structure in place. More information about the health check.



Child sexual exploitation/abuse

We are developing a number of products to further improve the professionalism and consistency of CSEA investigations. If successful, these three strands of work will act as pathfinders for other areas of vulnerability:

 - pathfinders

Licence to practise

The College is piloting a licence to practise approach in 3 volunteer forces. This focusses on 3 key decision points within an investigation: allocation, mid-way review and closure. We hope that this will improve the professional status of officers and staff carrying out these challenging roles.

A code of practice for CSA investigations has also been developed, this will help chief officers to implement the supporting structures needed to ensure forces are undertaking these investigations efficiently and effectively. The code has been drafted and will be going through a formal consultation period over the coming months.

Specialist Child Abuse Investigator Development Programme (SCAIDP)

​The College have developed a number of products to strengthen the content and quality assurance of the existing SCAIDP course with the aim to improve forces' CSA investigative capability and ensure that investigators provide the best service to the public.

So far we have:

Updated the existing multi-agency critical incident exercise which focuses on how the police and other agencies can work together effectively. This was piloted in one LSCB area in October 2017 and will be piloted in a different area in March 2018.

 In the coming months we will:

    • Run SCAIDP upskill events to ensure all officers who undertook an older version of the SCAIDP course have up-to-date knowledge
    • Run 10 regional ABE upskill events for investigators, focussed on CSEA investigations

Develop an immersive learning exercises as an alternative method to delivering SCAIDP module 4

Continuing professional development (CPD)

​The College have planned 2 CPD events for senior leaders in policing. These events, which will take place in January 2018, will focus on vulnerability through the lenses of CSA and modern slavery. By providing senior leaders with additional information and insight in to these high risk / high harm areas of policing, we hope they will be able to provide greater support investigations and the officers working on them.




Want to know more?

Email vulnerability@college.pnn.police.uk

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