If you think a child is in immediate danger, please call the emergency services on 999.
If you are concerned about the general health, welfare and safety of any child, but feel there is no immediate danger, please contact us by one of the methods below, or fill in an anonymous form online using the link in the box on the right.
If you are contacting us out of office hours, please contact the Emergency Duty Team.
The first response
When an allegation is made that a child is at risk, social workers will have a discussion with the police (this is called a strategy discussion) to decide how to deal with the situation. The safety of the child will be the first priority.
If we believe a child may be at risk of serious harm, we will begin a Child Protection Enquiry. This is an enquiry under Section 47 of the Children Act. The police will decide whether a criminal investigation is required.
A social worker will carry out an initial assessment of the child's circumstances, to gain a picture of the situation at home. The information from an initial assessment will be used to decide what steps need to be taken next.
The initial assessment may show that there is nothing for us to worry about and we will not need to remain involved.
Sometimes, even if a child is not at risk there may be some problems within their family that we can help with. We will explain the services available to support and advise them.
If we discover reasons to worry about the safety of a child, we will either take emergency action (when there is an immediate and serious risk) or hold a Child Protection Conference.
If we have to take emergency action to protect a child, it will usually be done on the same day that the allegation is made.
Usually the first order a court will grant in an emergency is an Emergency Protection Order. This is in response to a request for emergency action and is valid for eight days.
We will place the child in the care of experienced foster carers, or (preferably) with a suitable member of their family.
Police protection is provided in the most serious cases if there is immediate danger to a child. It could involve safeguarding a child while they are in hospital, or arranging for foster care at an undisclosed address.
Working along with parents
We always prefer to carry out actions with the understanding and agreement of parents. We must stress that we do not need permission to act when we have reason to believe that a child may be at risk of significant harm.
It will help a child if their parents work with the agencies whilst enquiries are being made. For example, the parent may be able to suggest someone in the family who would agree to look after their child and work with us to keep them safe.
For more information, please see the fact sheet on the left of this page, and the frequently asked questions box below.