Concerned about a child
If you are concerned about a child in West Berkshire, it is important that you talk to someone about this. Don’t ignore your concerns or delay taking action.
- You can call West Berkshire Children Services Contact Advice Assessment Service (CAAS): on 01635 503090. They will listen to your concerns and decide on the appropriate course of action.
- You can contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 (free service, lines open 24 hours a day). They will listen to your concerns, offer advice and support and can take action on your behalf if a child is in danger. You can also report concerns anonymously. For further information or to report your concerns online visit: nspcc.org.uk/what-you-can-do/report-abuse/
Concerns about staff working with children
If you have a concern about a member of staff working with children (in either a paid or voluntary capacity) please contact the Local Area Designated Officer (LADO) on 01635 503090 or email@example.com
Spotting the signs of child abuse and neglect
To spot the signs of child abuse or neglect, look for changes in:
- Appearance – such as frequent unexplained injuries, consistently poor hygiene, matted hair, unexplained gifts, or a parent regularly collecting children from school when drunk
- Behaviour – such as demanding or aggressive behavior, frequent lateness or absence from school, avoiding their own family, misusing drugs or alcohol, or being constantly tired
- Communication – such as sexual or aggressive language, self-harming, becoming secretive and reluctant to share information or being overly obedient
In 2014/15 more than 400,000 children in England were supported because someone noticed they needed help.
Most people find the decision to report a concern about a child a difficult one. They worry about overreacting or being wrong, and may question whether they have strong enough evidence, or if they have misread the signs of abuse or misunderstood a situation.
These fears are understandable, but unfounded.
You don’t need to be absolutely certain of what you’ve seen or heard to call your local children’s social care team. Information is usually gathered from many sources, and your report would form one part of a bigger picture. That said, a small piece of information could be the missing piece needed, so it is very important.
Another big worry people have is that someone will find out they have made a report, but this is unlikely to happen as you can make the call anonymously, although most people do give their details.
Some people don’t report suspected abuse because they think it might just be a one off. Even if that is the case, every child deserves to be protected and it is better to be safe than sorry.
If you’re worried a child is being abused or neglected, sharing your concerns with the local children’s social care team could mean the authorities spot the problem sooner. Children and families can be helped at an earlier stage with preventative support, if more members of the public share their concerns.
Some people prefer to talk to someone such as a partner, family member or friend before making a report – and that’s perfectly fine.
Everyone has a role to play in helping to protect children. All children have a right to be safe and should be protected from all forms of abuse and neglect. It is not just up to social services, doctors and the police to spot the signs of abuse and neglect. Members of the public are in a unique position to spot concerns among children with whom they have contact – which may not be apparent to professionals.
Reporting a concern if you are deaf, hard of hearing of speech impaired
If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, the following options will help you to report a concern about a child:
Contact Advice Assessment Service (CAAS): Email CAAS at firstname.lastname@example.org
- This email address is confidential . If your email account is not secure, please don’t include confidential or personal information in your initial email. A member of staff will email you back and give instructions on how to provide further information securely.
- NSPCC Sign Video: This service uses British Sign Language and is available on PC, Mac, iOS (iphone/ipad) and Android smartphone (4.2 or above). Once you are connected, a BSL interpreter will appear on your screen. You can explain to the interpreter what your concerns are and tell them that you want to contact the NSPCC. The interpreter will contact NSPCC and relay your concerns to a counsellor. The counsellor will listen to your concerns and advise on a course of action. This BSL video service is currently available Monday to Friday, from 9am to 6pm. For further information and to access this service visit: nspcc.org.uk/what-you-can-do/report-abuse
Police: If you think a child is at immediate risk of harm, contact the Police on 999 via text message.
Please be aware you need to register your mobile before using the emergency SMS service.
- Send the word ‘register’ in an SMS message to 999
- You will then receive SMS messages about the service
- When you have read these SMS messages reply by sending ‘yes’ in an SMS message to 999
- You will receive a SMS message telling you that your mobile phone is registered or if there is a problem with your registration
For more information on this service and how to register, please visit: www.emergencysms.org.uk/