Reporting child abuse and neglect

If you are worried about the safety or welfare of a child, it is important that you report it. Even if you’re not sure, it's always best to get your concerns checked out by professionals. The information below gives advice on what to do if you think a child may be in danger.

Who to contact

If you think that a child living in Northern Ireland is:

  • being abused
  • has been harmed in any way
  • is likely to suffer harm

you should contact the Gateway Services Teams for Children’s Social Work at the Health and Social Care (HSC) Trust in the area that the child lives.

You can also contact the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children's (NSPCC) free and confidential 24-hour helpline service on:

What you will be asked

You will be asked to provide information such as:

  • where the child lives
  • their personal or family details (if known)
  • who cares for them
  • the nature of your concerns

All calls relating to concerns about the safety of a child are taken seriously and treated in confidence. It is up to you if you wish to give your name or not.

Social Services will investigate your concerns and take appropriate action to make sure that the child is protected.

Child Protection Disclosure arrangements

If you have a genuine concern that someone with access to a particular child might be posing a risk to that child, you can approach the PSNI to ask if that person has a criminal record for sexual or violent offences.

These arrangements were introduced on 14 March 2016 to strengthen existing methods of disclosure.

To make an application you will need to fully complete a form and bring it in person to a police station. A copy of the form can be downloaded from the PSNI website or can be obtained from any PSNI station.

At the police station you will be required to prove your identity using an acceptable form of photographic identification and you may also be required to answer any clarification questions and sign the declaration regarding disclosure.

The disclosure process may then take up to 28 days to complete. Conviction information will only be given to the person with primary responsibility for the safety of the child and only if it is necessary to protect the child. 

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