County Police chief Adrian Lee has pledged his support of KidsAid, a Northampton children’s charity headed by Countess Karen Spencer.
The Chief Constable was speaking on Saturday, 26th October at a national conference organised by KidsAid and hosted by Earl and Countess Spencer at Althorp House.
Mr Lee was one of the key speakers at the event, aimed at furthering understanding and help for vulnerable children. Other speakers at the conference were TV and radio broadcaster Nicky Campbell, Children’s Commissioner for England Dr Maggie Atkinson and experts in child psychotherapy, fostering and public health.
Conference delegates, who included Countess Spencer, the Patron of KidsAid, were told by Mr Lee that the county faces many difficulties at a time of radical change.
In March this year an Ofsted inspection into the system for stopping the neglect and abuse of children in the county was judged inadequate.
‘There is a very long history sadly in Northamptonshire that the level of resources, commitment and the quality of multi-agency working is not fit for purpose,’ said Mr Lee. ‘We needed a trigger event which would enable us to radically change the way we thought and behaved in terms of safeguarding children. We went into this inspection with our eyes open. We knew it was highly likely we would be inadequate.
‘But we’re in a different place today,’ he said. ‘From a policeman’s perspective I am absolutely sure that our children are much safer today than they were in March. The journey has been quite rapid and profound in changes that have taken place in policing.’
Mr Lee outlined how increased training and co-operation between the police and schools, social, youth and health workers has done much to improve the protection and welfare of the county’s vulnerable children.
The identification, protection and creation of a happier future for vulnerable and damaged children was a strong theme in this second KidsAid conference. The charity, which relies on donations and fund-raising, employs therapists who use play, drama, music and art therapy and psychodynamic counselling to treat children suffering from difficulties triggered by traumatic events including family bereavement, domestic violence and other forms of abuse.
Mr Lee also spoke about resources being available to help families in difficulties in a bid to prevent crimes. ‘We’re very keen to get involved in all sorts of ways to ensure that young people don’t get involved in crime,’ added Mr Lee.
‘There is a role for the police in trying to work with young people. I think we could do more to try and integrate KidsAid with the knowledge we have of where this sort of support is needed. The fantastic thing about KidsAid – and I don’t think we understand it enough – is that one of the options we ought to be considering is looking at each young person as an individual.
‘We could work much more closely with KidsAid and that would be a good outcome of today’s conference.