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Evaluation of the National Child Protection Inspection (NCPI) programme on policing

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Published: February 2020

The National Child Protection Inspection programme (NCPI) is run by HMICFRS and assesses the quality of child protection practices in police forces across England and Wales.

Aims

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) commissioned NatCen to carry out research to better understand the impact of their inspection activity on policing. This independent evaluation is the first study of its kind commissioned by HMICFRS.

The National Child Protection Inspection programme (NCPI) is run by HMICFRS and assesses the quality of child protection practices in police forces across England and Wales. This research explores the perceived impact of the NCPI programme on policing practices since 2014, as well as the experiences of people in inspected forces, and the inspectors themselves.

The findings of work provide initial evidence of perceived impacts of this inspection, evidence-based recommendations to support improvements in forces and the inspectorate, and useful tools to inform the development of other evaluation work conducted by HMICFRS.

Findings

The NCPI approach was considered engaging and comprehensive, and a greater sense of collaboration with forces was highlighted since the changes to the inspection approach in 2017. The evaluation also found evidence of positive changes in for example, leadership, management and governance and the child’s experience of the force, in line with the programme’s logic.

Engagement with the NCPI programme from senior leaders within the forces helped to facilitate change within these areas. The evaluation also found that when forces engaged with and accepted the NCPI recommendations, this led to greater investment in resources designed to safeguard children across the forces.

Recommendations to ensure the NCPI methodology continues to support forces effectively were highlighted by participants and include:

  • HMICFRS could better publicise the aims and benefits of the inspection programme and be transparent about the range and purpose of data collection methods to increase engagement and buy-in.
  • Better sharing of good practice on child protection and safeguarding would increase opportunities for forces to learn from each other.
  • Consideration should be given to the timing of inspection work and the potential for coordinating around other programmes (such as the Joint Targeted Area Inspections), due to the high level of work involved in support inspections.

Methods

This mixed-method evaluation used multiple methods of data collection to capture evidence on the perceived impact and experiences of the NCPI programme. This included the development of the programme’s logic model, a document review of inspection reports, an online survey with force staff and, qualitative interviews/focus groups with individuals from inspected and uninspected forces and the inspection team.

Download the full report from the HMICFRS website