Advice line for anyone concerned about how workplace child protection issues are being handled
Today, we're officially launching a whistleblowing helpline to provide free advice and support to professionals wanting to raise concerns about how child protection issues are being handled in their own or other organisations.
The advice line was commissioned by the Home Office as a firm commitment made by Government in its response to failures to protect children from sexual exploitation in Rotherham and the Government's subsequent Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation report.
The law on whistleblowing
As a whistleblowing body, we seek to protect callers against unfair treatment should they make a disclosure relating to child protection.
A disclosure qualifies for protection if it falls into one of a list of categories which include:
- if the health or safety of any individual has been, is being or is likely to be endangered
- if a criminal offence has been committed, is being committed or is likely to be committed.
Callers are protected by law - they shouldn't be treated unfairly or lose their job because they 'blow the whistle'. People can raise their concern at any time about an incident that happened in the past, is happening now, or they believe will happen in the near future.
This protection is applicable in England only, although the whistleblowing advice line can support and advise professionals across the UK.
Who can call?
Anyone can call our whistleblowing advice line if they have a concern about a child and how that concern is being handled. We urge professionals to contact us as soon as they believe:
- their own or another employer will cover it up
- their employer will treat them unfairly for complaining
- the concern hasn't been sorted out and they have already told them about it.
The advice line provides free help and advice to people who suspect their organisation might be putting children at risk, even if they're not certain that this is the case. You can call the advice line about an incident that happened in the past, is happening now, or that you believe might happen in the future.
But, the advice line isn't intended to replace any current practices or responsibilities of organisations working with children. We encourage professionals to raise any concerns about a child to their own employer in the first instance.
Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive, said:
"If an employee thinks a child is in danger or has been failed by their organisation then nothing should stand in the way of them speaking out. Too often people with concerns have kept silent because they have been fearful of the consequences for their jobs, and this can have devastating consequences for the children involved.
"A feature of the child abuse scandals of recent years has been people who said they thought something wasn't right but were unsure whether they could discuss their concerns confidentially outside their organisation. The new whistleblowing advice line is a vital new initiative and will provide a confidential, safe place for anyone who has concerns and wants support or advice."
What happens when you call?
All callers are protected by law. One of our trained practitioners will discuss:
- details of the case with you
- the possible protection available to you where relevant
If a child is in immediate danger, the helpline practitioner will take action such as referring the case onto the appropriate statutory bodies.
Spotting the signs of abuse
The signs of child abuse aren't always obvious, and a child might not tell anyone what's happening to them. Sometimes children don't understand that what's happening is abuse.