The police have a duty and responsibility to investigate all criminal offences and, as Lord Laming pointed out in his report into the circumstances leading to the death of Victoria Climbié (2003), 'the investigation of crimes against children is as important as the investigation of any other serious crime and any suggestions that child protection policing is of lower status than any other form of policing should be eradicated'. Offences committed against children can be particularly sensitive, and often require the police to work with other organisations, such as Children's Social care, in the conduct of any investigation.
The police recognise the fundamental importance of inter-agency working in combating child abuse, as illustrated by well-established arrangements for joint training involving police and social work colleagues. The police have invested a great deal in both training and resources to enhance their ability to offer the best possible service to child victims of crime.
Public Protection Unit
Guernsey Police have a Public Protection Unit which normally takes primary responsibility for investigating child abuse cases. Safeguarding children is not solely the role of Public Protection officers - it is a fundamental part of the duties of all police officers. Patrol officers attending domestic abuse incidents, for example, should be aware of the effect of such abuse on any children normally resident within the household.
The police hold important information about children who may be at risk of harm as well as those who cause such harm. They are committed to sharing information and intelligence with other organisations where this is necessary to protect children. This includes a responsibility to ensure that those officers representing the police at a child protection conference are fully informed about the case, as well as being experienced in risk assessment and the decision-making process. Similarly, they can expect other organisations to share with them information and intelligence they hold to enable the police to carry out their duties.
The police are responsible for the gathering of evidence in criminal investigations. This task can be carried out in conjunction with other agencies, but the police are ultimately accountable for the product of criminal enquiries. Any evidence gathered may be of use to Advocates who are preparing for civil proceedings to protect the victim. The Law Officers of the Crown should be consulted but evidence is normally shared if it is in the best interests of the child.
The police should be notified as soon as possible by Children's Services whenever a case referred to them involves a criminal offence committed, or suspected of having been committed, against a child. Other agencies should consider sharing such information. (See the 'Information sharing protocol for those working with children' for detailed guidance on this point). This does not mean that in all such cases a full investigation is required, or that there will necessarily be any further police involvement. It is important, however, that the police retain the opportunity to be informed and consulted, to ensure all relevant information can be taken into account before a final decision is made.
In addition to their duty to investigate criminal offences, the police have emergency powers to enter premises and ensure the immediate protection of children believed to be suffering from, or at risk of, serious harm. Such powers should be used only when absolutely necessary, the principle being that, wherever possible, the decision to remove a child from a parent or carer should be made by a court.
Guernsey Police Contacts
Public Protection Unit (PPU): 719419
Police (out of hours): 725111
- Worried about a child?
- Case Conference
- After the Initial Case Conference
- Supplementary Guidance