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Recognising and reporting child abuse

We all have a role to play to keep children and young people safe. Find out what to do if you suspect a child is being abused or neglected.  

If you're worried about a child’s immediate safety, contact the police by dialling 999. If you think a child is being abused or you think their safety is at risk, talk to our Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) team on 020 8314 6660.

Reporting child abuse 

If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected then it is important to tell someone. You don’t have to be absolutely certain about whether a child is being abused; if you have a feeling that something’s not right, speak to our children's social care team.

How to spot the signs of child abuse and 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 behaviour, 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

Further examples of abuse and the associated signs and symptoms are available.

What will you be asked when you make a report?

We have a dedicated MASH team, and you should call them if you think a child or young person is at risk or is being abused or neglected.

While it is understood that you might not have all the answers, the following is an example of the types of questions you might be asked:

  • Details about the child, such as name and date of birth.

  • Address and contact details for parent or carer.

  • What you are concerned about.

What happens once you’ve made a report?

When you call our MASH team, your concern will be listened to and assessed. Information is usually gathered from many sources, and your report would form one part of a bigger picture.

If significant concerns are raised about a child, a social worker will make an assessment and decide what support to provide. It may be that the concerns are unfounded and that no further action is necessary, although all concerns are taken seriously.


Multi-agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)

Opening hours:

Monday–Friday 9am–5pm. If you have concerns about the welfare of a child outside these hours, please contact the emergency duty team on 020 8314 6000 and ask to speak to the out-of-hours duty social worker.