Fears over how police protect vulnerable people

Domestic violence victim posed by model Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Domestic abuse crimes are usually dealt with by police teams known as Public Protection Units

A senior police officer has expressed concern about the way forces in England and Wales protect vulnerable people from abuse and exploitation.

Gavin Thomas, president of the Police Superintendents Association (PSA), said officers in charge of public protection should be licensed for the role.

He called for national standards for protecting people such as domestic abuse victims and children.

The Home Office said: "Proposals are already being brought forward."

Mr Thomas will speak at the PSA's annual conference in Stratford-upon-Avon later.

Crimes such as domestic violence, child abuse and sexual exploitation are usually dealt with by police teams known as Public Protection Units.

These units are also responsible for finding missing people and monitoring sex offenders.

'Skilled specialism'

But a PSA report found almost half of those in charge of the units had no previous experience of public protection, and eight out of 10 had received no training or development for the role.

At the conference, Ch Supt Thomas will say: "We have standards, accreditation and skills to practice in firearms, public order and driving patrol cars.

"But currently there is no such requirement for protecting children and vulnerable people.

"Superintendents are carrying significant amounts of responsibility and must have the training and development to do their jobs effectively.

"It is a highly skilled specialism and should require a licence to practice."

He will also call for a common definition among all public services of what "vulnerable" means.

A Home Office spokesman said the proposals being brought forward would see minimum training and standards for specialist roles, including those who work with victims of domestic abuse and child sexual exploitation.

He added: "The College of Policing will be given the responsibility to enforce these standards through a system of national accreditation.

"This has already been a proven success in other critical areas such as firearms and public order."

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