If a report's been made about you What happens when someone makes a report and how to access information held about you
Our helpline counsellors listen to concerns, give advice and offer support. In some cases, they can take action if a child's in danger.
It can be very distressing for parents or carers if they find out that someone's reported concerns about a child in their family.
And it can be difficult to know what to say to a child if a report's been made about them.
Here you'll find advice on how to access information held about you by our helpline, what to do if you think someone's making false or malicious calls about you and how to talk to your family about what's happening.
What you can expect when someone contacts the NSPCC helpline
If someone contacts the NSPCC helpline because they're concerned about a child's welfare, we may refer the information we're given to other organisations, like children's services or the police, so they can investigate and take any appropriate action to make sure the child's safe.
Step 1: Speaking with a counsellor
When someone contacts our helpline, they'll be connected to a counsellor who'll listen to concerns and ask questions to make sure they understand the information. If the counsellor thinks that the family might need some suport to keep the child safe, then we'll refer the case to another organisation, such as children's services or the police.
Step 2: Getting more support
We might ask other organisations to check to see if a family needs some support. It may be that children's services look at what's happening in a family and see if there's any support locally that can be provided. To do this we would send them the information we have in a secure way so no one else can see it. It's up to those organisations to decide if an investigation will take place.
Step 3: After the call
If we refer the case to another organisation, such a children's services or police, it is up to that organisation to decide if an investigation will take place. If the person who made the report contacts us to find out what happened, we don't share any information with them, as we need to protect the privacy of those involved.
Accessing information held about you
You're entitled to have a copy of any personal information that the NSPCC helpline holds about you or your children. This may be information you've supplied yourself, or information you believe has been reported to the helpline by another person.
If you would like to know the details of that report, you can email our Data Protection Officer or send a written request to our head office in London marked for the attention of the Data Protection Officer.
You'll be asked to provide proof of identity and address. Then we'll send you a copy of any personal data that you've requested about yourself or your children. This is free.
Our Data Protection team will not be able to provide details which may give away the identity of the person who made the report to protect their confidentiality.
What you can do if a malicious report's made about you
If you think someone has intentionally made false report against you or your family, you should contact the police to report this.
If the police agree the person who made the report is harassing you and decide to investigate, then 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, balancing the need to protect people from further harassment, with the need to protect the confidentiality of those who support our Helpline by reporting very real concerns.
Where 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 family about a report
If children’s services or the police have spoken to your child or visited your home, you should reassure your child that they've done nothing wrong. If they're worried or upset by anything that's happening in their lives then it's okay for them to talk to other people about this.
Reassure them they won't be in trouble for talking about anything that's bothering them to a police officer, social worker or teacher in school.
If your child is 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.
When your information's passed to other organisations
The most common organisations we pass information to are children's services or the police. But we would also make a referral to other organisations like, adult services or Ofsted, if needed. It is for those organisations to 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.
Children’s services must work with you when making decisions about your child, including what help they’ll provide to meet your child’s needs. You should talk to them about the types of help that would best meet the needs of your family.
If children's services suspect that a child may be at risk of harm, they must look into the child's situation and take any action necessary to keep them safe and promote their welfare.
In cases where a child or young person’s at risk of significant harm, including physical, emotional or sexual abuse and neglect, children’s services may decide to put the child on a protection plan.
If child protection enquiries have been made about your child, your child may be interviewed or medically examined without you present.
If you're unsure about what's happening and would like some advice, then you can contact the NSPCC helpline to talk this through.
For some families, this may be an opportunity to get some additional support if they've been struggling to manage. Children's services can refer families for family support, help with day care for under 5's or help with parenting, such as parenting classes.
The role of the police is to:
- 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.