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Organisations responsible for dealing with child abuse

This advice applies to England

This page tells you which organisations are responsible for dealing with child abuse and with whom they must share concerns about child abuse so the child can be protected.

Every agency that has contact with children must share any concerns that a child is being abused with other professionals and with the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB).  Professionals shouldn’t assume that someone else will pass on information which they think may be critical to keeping a child safe - they should always do this if they think it’s necessary.

Below is a list of agencies that have a legal duty to deal with, and share information about, possible child abuse.

The local authority

The local authority has a legal duty to:

  • follow up any complaint or concern about child abuse and
  • get involved with a family where child abuse is suspected.

In severe cases, the child will be removed from the family.

In some cases, the local authority has a legal duty to continue to support a young person until they are 21 or even older if the child was removed from the family because of abuse.

Each local authority has a specialised department that deals with child protection issues. This could be called, for example, the child protection team, the children’s social work team or the safeguarding children’s team. In some areas, independent organisations carry out child protection duties on behalf of the local authority. Your local authority’s website will give you the details of who to contact about child abuse.

The police

Most examples of child abuse amount to criminal offences, for example,neglect of a child under 16, assault or rape. The abuser could be reported to the police and prosecuted. The police have a legal duty to:

  • follow up any complaint or concern expressed about child abuse
  • report their concerns to the local authority
  • in serious cases, take a child away for 72 hours to keep the child safe.  This is called police protection.

Local Safeguarding Children Boards

Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) are panels made up of various agencies.  There is one in every local authority area.  Their role is to set out policies and procedures for child protection in that area.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) doesn’t have a legal responsibility to follow up allegations of abuse but it does have a duty to do so under its Royal Charter.  They also have the legal power to make certain applications to court to protect children.  In some areas, the NSPCC may also carry out some child protection work on behalf of the local authority.

Other agencies which come into contact with children

Other agencies involved with children have a responsibility to pass on to the local authority or the police any suspicions of child abuse or any concerns about a child.  These include:

  • health care professionals, including health visitors, midwives, doctors and hospital staff
  • other professionals who work with children, including play workers and youth and community workers
  • probation officers
  • teachers and other school staff
  • nursery staff
  • education welfare officers
  • educational psychologists.

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