Our helpline counsellors listen to concerns from anyone worried about a child, give advice and offer support. Sometimes they can take action if a child’s in danger.
It can be distressing for parents and carers to find out someone’s reported concerns about a child in their family. Or if you’re visited by a social worker or the police make a welfare check after a report's been made. And it can be difficult to know what to say to a child if a report has been made about them.
What happens when someone contacts our helpline
When someone contacts us because they're worried about a child, we might share any information they give us with other organisations like children's services or the police. This allows them to investigate and, if necessary, take the next steps to make sure a child is safe.
A call handler will answer the phone and ask a few basic questions to help them understand your worries. They might also give you answers to any questions that you have. If you’re worried about a child or young person or need parenting advice, they’ll put you through to a child protection specialist.
A child protection specialist will listen to your concerns and ask you any questions they might have. This helps to ensure they understand the information you’re sharing, assess the situation and make decisions about the next steps to take.
When there’s a serious concern about a child and you've shared the child's identity, the child protection specialist will make a report and share information with social services. This is known as 'making a referral'.
They might also contact local police if the child is in immediate danger. If the Helpline don't need to make a referral, they’ll give you advice on what you can do or information on local services.
No matter the outcome of your contact, we always encourage you to get in touch again if you need to. We'll pass on any further information you or anybody else shares about the child or young person you're worried about.
We understand that you might want to know what happens to the child or young person. However, we have a duty to protect the privacy of those involved and won't be able to share that information.
Accessing information held about you
You can request a copy of any personal information that our helpline holds about you or your children. This could be information you've supplied or that you believe has been reported to the helpline by someone else.
To make a request:
- email our Data Protection Officer on [email protected]
- or write to Data Protection Officer, NSPCC, Weston House, 42 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3NH.
You'll be asked to provide proof of identity and address. We'll then send you a copy of any personal data that you've requested about yourself or your children. This is free.
To protect their confidentiality we can't provide details which may give away the identity of the person who made the report.
If a malicious or false report's made about you
If you think someone has intentionally made a false report against you or your family, contact the police. If the police agree the person who made the report is harassing you they may decide to investigate. They may contact our Data Protection Team to request more information about the person who made the report.
We work closely with the police and deal with these requests as helpfully as we can. We balance the need to protect people from further harassment with the need to protect the confidentiality of those who report real concerns.
If someone continues to make false reports about a family, we work with children's services to help minimise the impact on that family.
Talking to your children about a report
If children's services or the police have spoken to your child or visited your home, it's important to make sure your child knows they've done nothing wrong. And that if they're worried or upset by anything that's happening in their lives it's okay for them to talk to other people about it.
Reassure them they won't be in trouble for talking about anything they're worried about to a police officer, social worker or teacher.
If they're worried or upset by what's happened they can contact Childline and talk through their worries with them. Or they may want to talk to a teacher from school or a trusted family member or family friend.
What happens when your information's passed to other organisations
Children's services and the police are the organisations we most often pass information onto. Sometimes we need to make referrals to others, like adult services and Ofsted.
These organisations then decide whether to look into any allegations that have been made.
Children's services, previously known as social services, aim to support and protect vulnerable children, young people, their families and young carers.
They must work with you when making decisions about your child and what help they'll provide. They might offer you some support if you've been struggling to cope.
If they suspect a child might be at risk of harm, they have to look into the child's situation and take steps to keep them safe. They might decide to put the child on a protection plan. They may interview or medically examine your child without you present.
If you're unsure about what's happening and would like some advice, you can speak to us. Our helpline counsellors will talk you through what's happening.
The police have an important role in keeping children safe. They:
- identify children who might be at risk from abuse and neglect
- investigate alleged offences against children
- make enquiries to safeguard and secure the welfare of any child within their area who is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm
- work with other organisations, particularly when information relevant to child protection issues needs to be shared
- exercise emergency powers to protect children.
They work with other organisations, like children's services, health services and education services, to investigate crime. But it may not always be in the public interest to prosecute an offender. For example, the alleged offender could be very young, have a learning disability or be the child's parent.