Child protection in the UK

How the systems and laws of the UK and its 4 nations work to keep children safe from abuse and harm.

The UK’s 4 nations – England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – have their own child protection system and laws to help protect children from abuse and neglect. Each nation has a framework of legislation, guidance and practice to identify children who are at risk of harm, and take action to protect those children and prevent further abuse occurring.

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The child protection system across the UK

Each UK nation is responsible for its own policies and laws around education, health and social welfare. This covers most aspects of safeguarding and child protection.

Laws are passed to prevent behaviour that can harm children or require action to protect children. Guidance sets out what organisations should do to play their part to keep children safe.

Although the child protection systems are different in each nation, they are all based on similar principles.

England

How the child protection system works from reporting, investigations and care proceedings including facts, statistics and case reviews.

Find out more on NSPCC Learning

Northern Ireland

How the child protection system works from reporting, investigations and care proceedings including facts, statistics and case reviews.

Find out more on NSPCC Learning

Scotland

How the child protection system works from reporting, investigations and care proceedings including facts, statistics and case reviews.

Find out more on NSPCC Learning

Wales

How the child protection system works from reporting, investigations and care proceedings including facts, statistics and case reviews.

Find out more on NSPCC Learning

Children in care

Find out how to best support looked after children and young people on our new NSPCC Learning website.

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Case reviews

Find published reviews and our learning from case reviews series of briefings on our new NSPCC Learning website.

Go to NSPCC Learning

A child's legal rights

Find out what the law defines as a child, and what children's rights are in UK law.
Find out more

Family issues children experience

Parental mental health

Helping children living with parents with mental health problems.
Read more about parental mental health

Parental substance misuse

Supporting children living with parents who misuse alcohol and drugs.
Read more about parental substance misuse

Separation, divorce and contact

Even though the relationship has ended between the adults, their role as parents has not stopped. Know your rights and make sure children get the right support.
Get advice for parents

Domestic abuse

Witnessing domestic abuse is child abuse, and teenagers can suffer domestic abuse in their relationships. 
Read more about domestic abuse

Help us keep children safe

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Last year a third of all calls to our helpline were about neglect, a figure that's even higher at Christmas. Donate now and help shine a light on children left in the dark.

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Report abuse

Our helpline is here 24/7. So if you’re worried about a child, you can always talk to us.
Report abuse to our helpline

Volunteering for NSPCC and Childline

Join the fight for every childhood through one of our volunteering opportunities.
Volunteering for NSPCC and Childline