HMICS Progress Review of Police Scotland's response to online child sexual abuse and exploitation

18 August 2021

On 26 February 2020, HMICS published its strategic review of Police Scotland’s response to online child sexual abuse which contained ten recommendations for improvement.

In our scrutiny plan 2019-2020 we advised on our intention to revisit this high risk area of policing to formally review progress against the ten recommendations.

Our findings and the current status of each of the recommendations are contained within this progress review and should be read in conjunction with the original report.

Since publication of our review (HMICS, 2020) Police Scotland have made good progress to address the recommendations which is commendable given the operational demand on the service over the last 18 months.

HMICS welcomes the steps taken to make improvements. Sufficient evidence of progress has been provided to close the following three recommendations:

Recommendation 3

Police Scotland should ensure a strategic governance framework is in place which provides support, direction, scrutiny and quality assurance to the force’s response to online child sexual abuse.

Recommendation 7

Police Scotland and the National Crime Agency should work together to ensure that all capabilities are being exploited to their full potential and intelligence is shared effectively.  

Recommendation 10

Police Scotland should ensure that arrangements for deploying undercover online specialist resources are directed by formal tasking arrangements aligned to risk, priority and demand.

Work is ongoing to address the remaining seven recommendations, which are deemed to have been partially met and HMICS will monitor progress.

During the progress review, it was apparent that driving improvement, meeting the increasing demand, and policing this high risk area continues to impact adversely on police officers and staff. HMICS has therefore made one further new recommendation that the service develops a specific wellbeing policy with support tailored for staff with specialist roles in tackling online child sexual abuse and exploitation.

Recommendation 11

Police  Scotland  should  review  the  current  arrangements  around  staff  welfare  and  develop  a wellbeing policy that involves appropriate support and monitoring for police officers and staff who have a dedicated role the response to online child sexual abuse.

NumberRecommendationStatusMade toLast updated
Publication type: 
Inspection report