Thames Valley Police must improve the way it protects vulnerable people, a report said.

His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) found TVP inadequate at protecting vulnerable people with staff "feeling overwhelmed with the pressure of having to manage the burden of risk daily".

Following an inspection in July, it graded four areas 'requires improvement' - one good and two adequate.

His Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary Roy Wilsher said: "I am satisfied with some aspects of the performance of Thames Valley Police in keeping people safe, reducing crime and providing victims with an effective service.

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"But there are areas in which the force needs to improve.

"The force has nine multi-agency safeguarding hubs (MASH) due to the size of the force area, and I am concerned about some of the processes within these hubs."

He said staffing levels within the hubs, which assess and manage the risk to individuals who have been identified as a vulnerable adults or children, were not sufficient to deal with demand.

thisisoxfordshire: Chief Constable Jason Hogg

This meant there were often queues of referrals and delays in putting in place strategies to protect vulnerable people from harm.

At one MASH, 28 strategy discussions - usually dealt with within 24 hours - were delayed beyond 72 hours. Seven of those were two weeks old.

In another case, a vulnerable adult had not been assessed for six weeks.  

It means that the force "isn’t fully aware of the risks contained in queues of referrals", said the report.

The "large backlogs" also meant that staff "are spending less time on reviewing the information recorded in police systems" about people who are mentioned in the referral.

"This is a significant risk, as the full picture of what is known isn’t being considered before determining the level of risk or the appropriate level of support," the report said.

It added: "Staff reported feeling overwhelmed with the pressure of having to manage the burden of risk daily."

Mr Wilsher said it "needs to make sure it has effective and consistent processes in place to protect vulnerable victims and share information promptly with other safeguarding agencies."

But he said: "The force had a change in leadership in the six months leading up to our inspection, and the new team has a clear purpose that it has communicated well, which focuses on building trust, serving victims, fighting crime and valuing the workforce."

The report said the force also requires improvement in investigating crime, responding to the public, managing offenders, leadership and force management.

It was rated 'adequate' at preventing crime and developing a positive workplace.

It was rated 'good' in the area of police powers and public treatment.

The force said it took immediate steps to increase staffing in its safeguarding teams following the early findings of the report and referrals to partners are now sent within appropriate timescales, and queues in the safeguarding hubs have been cleared.

Chief constable Jason Hogg said: "We take safeguarding extremely seriously and have been working closely with HMICFRS since their inspection to make sure we have rigorous processes in place to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.

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"We have already made significant improvements and are confident our new approach is making a difference.” 

He added: “I am pleased the report has recognised our commitment to protecting our communities and serving victims. 

"It acknowledges improvements in many areas made since our last inspection, such as a significant decrease in homicide, recognised by the Home Office as a positive example of tackling the deaths of young men on our streets.    

“It also references our work on domestic abuse and the success of our specialist operations to safeguard victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation and reducing the risk of reoffending by registered sex offenders."