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 tell professionals about your concerns. Social services and the police can investigate concerns about a child's safety.

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:

What you will be asked

You will be asked to give information such as:

  • where the child lives
  • their personal or family details, if known
  • who cares for them
  • 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 give your name.

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

Child Protection disclosure arrangements

If you're concerned that someone with access to a child might be a risk to that child, you can apply to the police to ask if that person has a criminal record for sexual or violent offences.

To apply, you need to complete a form and bring it in person to a police station. You can download the form from the PSNI's website or collect a form in any police station.

At the police station, you must prove prove your identity with acceptable photographic identification such as:

  • a passport
  • a driving licence
  • an electoral ID card

You might need to answer clarification questions and sign the declaration.

The disclosure process can take up to 28 days. If necessary to protect the child, the police will give conviction information to the child's guardian or parent.

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