Child protection in Scotland Reporting your concerns about a child

We're all responsible for reporting concerns about a child's welfare. Although there is no legal requirement to report, Scotland's national guidance for child protection refers to "collective responsibilities" to protect children. There are specific guidelines and procedures in place for people who work with children.

If you think a child is in immediate danger

Don't delay – call the police on 999,
or call us on 0808 800 5000, straight away.

How to report a concern

A Children's Reporter is a local, independent official who can decide if any legal interventions need to be made to protect a child. You can find your local Children's Reporter on the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration website.

As part of GIRFEC (Getting it Right for Every Child) a Named Person role will be in place for every child in Scotland. This role will be undertaken by those in universal services, i.e. health and education. This role will act as the point of contact for children/ young people and families, and all others who have a concern about the wellbeing of a child. The named person's responsibility will include supporting and safeguarding the child.

The Children & Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 sets out further requirements about which children should have a named person, and who that named person should be. When this act comes into place in 2015 guidance will be published on the role of 'named person'.

You can find the child's local children’s social work team through the local authority they live in  or ring Police Scotland on the non-emergency 101 number.

If you work or volunteer with children and families your organisation should have procedures in place for you to report concerns about a child. For example hospitals have designated nurses and doctors who deal with child protection issues.

The NSPCC Whistleblowing Advice Line is for anyone with child protection concerns in the workplace. The helpline provides support and advice to those who feel unable to get a child protection issue addressed by their employer. It can be contacted anonymously on 0800 028 0285.

What happens to the report

When concerns about a child are reported to us, the police or the child's named person, they will be passed to the local children's social work team where appropriate. Once reported, public authorities have a legal duty to investigate concerns about a child.

Referrals and investigations

Reporting requirements

Although there are no specific mandatory regulations requiring professionals to report suspicions to the authorities, there are some expectations that are clearly set out in legislation and guidance for each of the UK's 4 nations.

Guidance for professionals in Scotland is found in National guidance for child protection in Scotland (Scottish Government, 2014) in the section on information-sharing and recording which states that information sharing is an essential component of child protection and care activity. The guidance sets out general principles for information sharing.

The child protection system in the other UK nations

Child protection in England

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

Child protection in Northern Ireland

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

Child protection in Wales

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

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  1. Scottish Government (2014) National guidance for child protection in Scotland (PDF). Edinburgh: Scottish Government.