Frequently asked questions
When should I call the NSPCC's helpline service?
You should call the NSPCC if you think a child needs protection. It could be to report child abuse, to ask a question about child abuse, or to make an enquiry about how to safeguard a child’s welfare, like how to keep a child safe online.
What happens when I call?
- A call handler will answer, ask about the nature of your concern, and explain our policy about remaining anonymous.
- Next, you will be put through to an counsellor who will ask you to talk about your concerns.
- The counsellor will assess the information, advise you, and decide upon a course of action with you.
- If they need to refer the case to the police or children’s services, they will ask you for some identifying details.
- If the counsellor decides a referral is not necessary, they will give you some advice about how you can help the child, if you want to.
- You will always be in control of what you want to say.
Can I remain anonymous?
Yes. Remember that your anonymity isn’t just about your name. It’s also about your relationship to a child. For example, if you don’t tell us your name, but do mention that you are a grandparent, you will have identified yourself to us. If you do this, we may have to pass details onto the police or children’s services. We never pass details onto the family concerned.
What if I’ve got it wrong?
Identifying children who are at risk is very, very hard. It’s natural to worry that you might be mistaken, but it's important that you trust your instincts and call us. Once you have discussed your concerns with one of our professionals, it’s no longer your responsibility – it’s ours. You can trust us to make the right decision on your behalf.
What sort of information may I be asked for?
If we need to refer the case to the police or children’s services, we will ask you for details to help identify the child. These could include the child’s name, address, school, doctor or date of birth. You don’t need to know this information, but please tell us as much as you know – a child’s safety may depend on it.
What if I don’t have all the information?
You should still call us. Any information you have could help. You may simply have seen the child on the bus, but there may be information about this that can help. For example, what number bus was it? Where did the child board? All of these details may be useful in helping us to identify a child.
Will they know it’s me who has called?
As long as you take steps to remain anonymous, we won’t be able to identify you to the police or children’s services. And we will never say who has called if we happen to talk directly to the child or the family concerned. However, we can’t guarantee someone won’t guess that it was you.
Will you keep records about me?
Yes, we keep records of all our calls in case we need to use them at a later date to protect a child. We record what is said about a child's situation, as well as any identifying details given.
Can I see the records you have about me?
Under the Data Protection Act, you have the right to see personal information that the NSPCC holds about you, subject to certain exemptions. A person with parental responsibility can also request access to their child’s personal information, although this request may not be granted, especially where the child is old enough to make up their own mind as to who should see their personal information. You are not entitled to see information about anyone else. To see your records, write to:
Data Protection Officer
42 Curtain Road
London EC2A 3NH
You should give details such as names and addresses and explain what information you are looking for.
If you believe that the NSPCC is holding information about you that is incorrect you can ask us to review it. Again, write to our Data Protection Officer at the above address. If our information is wrong, we will correct it.
How can I find out who has called about me?
We can’t tell you the identity of anyone who has called about you, or any information that leads to their identity. It is also extremely rare for the courts to ask them to reveal their identity.
What happens to information from malicious calls?
Sometimes, information that the NSPCC receives may be malicious. We work closely with other agencies to make sure such calls are identified, and that repeat reports do not occur. If you feel you have been the subject of a malicious call, please let us know.
How can I make a comment or complain?
If you wish to comment or make a complaint about the NSPCC, you can do so to any NSPCC member of staff, volunteer, or local office. Alternatively, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 020 7825 2775, or write to the NSPCC Information Service at:
42 Curtain Road
Complaints leaflet for adults (PDF, 265 Kb)
Complaints leaflet for children and young people (PDF, 785 Kb)
NSPCC complaints policy (WORD, 318 Kb)
NSPCC complaints procedure (WORD, 240 Kb)
To help us respond to your comment or complaint effectively, please tell us which of our services it relates to. Also, please include your full name, contact details, and let us know how you would like us to contact you.