Barry Sheerman – 2015 Parliamentary Question to the Home Office

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Barry Sheerman on 2015-10-21.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what training her Department provides to police officers and social workers for interviewing children and vulnerable adults who are possible victims of child abuse.

Karen Bradley

Tackling abuse is a priority for this Government. We will continue the work of overhauling how our police, social services and other agencies work together to protect vulnerable children. To this end, we have prioritised child sexual abuse as a national threat like serious and organised crime, which means police forces now have a duty to collaborate with each other across force boundaries to safeguard children.

The provision of police training is an operational matter. The College of Policing and the National Policing Lead for child protection and abuse investigation have set the requirement for all forces to train all new and existing police staff to respond to child sexual exploitation and abuse, including call handlers, Police Community Support Officers, police officers, detectives and specialist investigators.

The College of Policing has issued Achieving Best Evidence guidance and training for all officers engaged in interviewing children and vulnerable witnesses. This includes training on the sensitivity needed when dealing with victims and witnesses who may be vulnerable as well as working with partners – such as social workers – and their involvement in interviews.

Specialist courses for child sexual abuse and rape specialist investigators also expand on these requirements in relation to interviewing children and vulnerable adults.

The role of social workers in these investigations, including their training, is a matter for the Department for Education. The guidance issued by DfE in March 2015, “Working Together to Safeguard Children”, sets out how social workers and their managers, as well as other agencies including the police, should work together and follow the Achieving Best Evidence guidance.

The Department of Health are responsible for the training of social workers working with vulnerable adults who may have been sexually abused as children or in adulthood.