Guidance for police to spot families needing support

The guidance gives officers the best information they need to help with early intervention

New guidance has been launched to help police officers prevent crime and other problems by intervening early to help children and families where things are at risk of going wrong.

Dealing with crime and anti-social behaviour costs public services an estimated £5.2 billion a year - £1.8 billion of which falls to the police -according to analysis by the Early Intervention Foundation.

A significant proportion of police call outs are related to wider social problems, including mental health and other welfare concerns.

Providing the right help at the earliest opportunity can improve the life chances of vulnerable children and young people and steer them away from crime. This can deliver substantial social and economic benefits.

The Early Intervention Foundation and College of Policing have launched a practical guide to help frontline police identify children, young people or families needing support and respond effectively.

It offers advice on the warning signs which could indicate a child, young person or family needs help, including poor living conditions, disengagement from school, domestic abuse, or aggressive and confrontational behaviour.

The guide has been developed in consultation with police officers, police community support officers, police and crime commissioners and many others up and down the country.

It will be first of a series of Early Intervention guides for different professionals including GPs and teachers.

College of Policing Chief Executive, Chief Constable Alex Marshall, said:

“Officers and PCSOs are well placed to identify those in need of support and this guide provides practical examples for spotting risks and offering help.

“The guide offers the best information they need to help with early intervention and I would encourage all police forces to share it among officers and PCSOs.

“By working effectively with partner agencies we can become better at preventing crime and reducing demand on police in future.”

Case study

Durham Constabulary has an established policy of taking positive action around domestic abuse incidents.

For a number of years it has made use of body worn cameras (BWC) to capture evidence. A recent initiative has extended the use of BWC to capture the experiences of children and how domestic abuse within a family is seen ‘Through the Eyes of the Child’.

This gives police officers the opportunity of getting a complete picture of how children are living in homes they attend.

Footage from body worn cameras is uploaded on to a server by the attending officer.
It is there to view as part of how the police investigate and also safeguard vulnerable adults and children.

This footage can be viewed by other agencies, like children social care and domestic abuse specialists, who work within Multi Agency Safeguarding Hubs (MASH).
It can be used by them to shape their decision making.

Carey Oppenheim, EIF Chief Executive, said:

“All too often the Police may be the first agency to come into contact with a parent, child or family needing help and 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 is given at the earliest opportunity.

“We’re delighted to have worked with the College of Policing to produce this guide for frontline officers, and we look forward to continuing to work with them to ensure that this is taken up as part of operational policing.”

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