HAMPSHIRE’S Police and Crime Commissioner has welcomed a report which praises Hampshire police for prioritising child protection but tells them improvements are still needed.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) praised Hampshire Constabulary for several things in the national child protection inspection for Hampshire report.

Hampshire police were praised for how it investigates child abuse, its welfare of children in custody, and how it responds when children at higher risk of harm are reported missing.

However, HMICFRS said in the same report that the force needs to improve policing child protection.

Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner, Donna Jones has reacted to the news and said that it is “vital” the force puts children “at the centre” of policing.

She said she will ensure that the needs of vulnerable children are being met.

She said: “I welcome the HMICFRS report and inspection into child protection as it is vital the force places children at the centre of the way it polices.

“Better outcomes for all children depends on a consistent approach to children’s safety, care and support, and tackling child abuse and exploitation.

“It is good to see this is being led from the top with commitment from senior officers in Hampshire Constabulary and the inspection identified many examples of good work.

“However, the report has indicated that more needs to be done and quicker. I have written to the chief constable to ensure that the needs of vulnerable children are being met.”

The report said that the force still needs to improve in areas including responding to incidents faster when there is a risk to children, sharing information with partners sooner in online abuse investigations and improving systems and processes for managing those who pose as a risk to children.

Roy Wilsher, Her Majesty’s inspector of constabulary, said: “Hampshire Constabulary’s senior leaders are clearly committed to child protection, and they have good oversight of how well officers carry out their work. We found many examples of good work by frontline officers responding to incidents involving children. The force is good at working with other organisations, such as schools and social care services, to keep children safe.

“But there is more work to do to provide better outcomes for vulnerable children in Hampshire, including how the force manages people who pose a risk to children, and responding to incidents quickly when children are at risk.

“We are encouraged by how Hampshire Constabulary worked with us on this inspection and its speed in addressing our areas of concern. We will continue to work closely with the force to monitor its progress.”

The report examined how effective the force’s decisions were at each stage of their communications with or for children and scrutinised how children were treated in custody.