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11 February 2015, 07:20
An inspection by the police watchdog has found Nottinghamshire Police needs to do more to improve its approach to protecting children.
A report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), published this morning, also claims children were being unnecessarily detained in police custody overnight and there was a lack of awareness of child sexual exploitation.
It also found staff were highly committed, knowledgeable and dedicated to providing good outcomes for children.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoë Billingham told Capital:
'It is clear that that despite good work in many areas, Nottinghamshire Police needs to do more to improve its approach to protecting children.
'Another area of significant concern is in the detention of children in custody for their own protection under the mental health legislation. The most serious case we found was where a 16-year-old-girl had been detained in police custody for 44 hours, before custody staff realised that she had gone without food or water. It is essential that the force takes steps to ensure that this never happens again.
'I encourage Nottinghamshire Police to act on our recommendations as a matter of urgency, and I have asked that within six weeks it provides me with an action plan to demonstrate how it will take forward our recommendations for improvement.'
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Jupp, of Nottinghamshire Police, told Capital:
'We recognise that people in crisis due to mental health should not be in police custody and we have made a public commitment with our partners that we will find an alternative solution to the use of police cells for children and adults detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act by March 2015 and October 2015 respectively.
'We never want to be in a position where children need to be taken into custody, whether for crimes or because of mental health issues and we continue to work with our partners to find alternative accommodation wherever possible.
'A full review of the case into the 16-year-old girl who was arrested has been conducted. She was offered food and drink on several occasions while in custody but declined. Doctors and nurses assessed her welfare, and she was deemed to require specialist mental health assistance, and attempts were made over many hours to find appropriate accommodation.'