Child protection and children in need

Call 999 if it is an emergency and the child is in immediate danger

If you are not in an emergency situation but you are worried that a child may be at risk of abuse, harm or neglect, you can make a referral to us.

You can do this whether you are a member of the public or a professional.

What is child protection?

Child protection is about protecting a child who may be experiencing child abuse already or is at risk of experiencing abuse in future.

What is child abuse?

Child abuse falls into several different categories. These can include the following:

Physical abuse SHOW

Emotional abuse SHOW

Sexual abuse SHOW

Neglect SHOW

You can read more on the NSPCC website about child abuse and neglect and signs, symptoms and effects of child abuse and neglect.

How to respond to a child who tells you about abuse

If a child talks to you about abuse, neglect or mistreatment they are experiencing, it is important that you remain calm and reassuring so that the child feels listened to and understood. It is also important that the person they speak to responds appropriately to get the child the support they need. Some tips on how to respond are:

  • Take any disclosure seriously and report it no matter how unlikely it might seem
  • Make notes about what has happened - when and where the discussion happened, who was present and what the child said
  • Once you have decided to report it, do not ask further questions. Let professionals take over from here

You might find the NSPCC resources on helping children disclose abuse helpful.

What to do if you think a child is being abused

If you have concerns about a child, you can report this to us by filling in the online referral form

Should you wish to discuss your concerns first, you can call us at any time.

Members of the public can phone us on 023 8083 3336.

If you are a professional, please contact us on 023 8083 2300.

What happens once a referral is made?

If the child does not currently have an allocated social worker, Southampton Children’s Services Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) will consider the information you have provided in the context of any known history of the children in the family.

They will then consider the level of response required to ensure the child is safe and that their well-being is prioritised.

This may require one of the following:

  • A child protection enquiry under S47 of the Children Act for children believed to be at risk of or suffering child abuse
  • A single assessment under S17 of the Children Act for children in need of additional support within their families
  • Support from the Early Help service
  • Continued involvement with universal services

What can I expect as the person making the referral?

You may be contacted to provide further details to inform decision making.

If you are a member of the public and wish to remain anonymous, please add this to the form. You will not be contacted with the outcome of your referral if you are not a professional involved with the family or an adult with parental responsibility for the child.

If you are a professional involved with the child and their family, you will be informed as to whether the concerns you have raised will be progressed through the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub to gather further information to inform the level of intervention required. You should be speaking with the adults who have parental responsibility for the child to let them know you have made contact with Children’s Services and to gain their consent for information sharing, unless by doing so you are concerned that the child may be placed at greater risk of harm.

The information you provide if you make a referral may be shared with the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). Find out more about MASH.

Contact details

Telephone number for members of the public: 023 8083 3336 

Telephone number for professionals: 023 8083 2300

Email address:

If you are not a professional involved with the child or family, you do not have to give your name and your conversation will be treated confidentially. 
NSPCC Freephone Child Protection Helpline: 080 8800 5000