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What to do if you’re worried

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What to do if you are worried

If you suspect a child or adult is being abused, you should always speak up. By identifying and reporting abuse, everyone can be kept safe. Even if you’re not certain, you must report your concern.

  • If your organisation has a safeguarding policy and people who are in charge of safeguarding children and adults at risk, then speak to those people first. They should help you take the right steps to report, so the person you’re worried about gets help as quickly as possible.
  • If your organisation does not yet have a policy, or you have used its policy and procedures and got no response, use the information below.
  • In a rare situation where a child or adult is in immediate danger, call the police on 999.

Identifying and reporting child abuse

  • If the risk is not immediate, report child abuse to your local council. You can put your postcode into the GOV.UK service finder to find out who to call in your area. You can also report via the NSPCC helpline: 0808 800 5000.
  • If you’re unsure how severe your concern is and want to talk it through, you can also call the NSPCC helpline for advice: 0808 800 5000.
  • If you’re a child or young person and need someone to talk to call Childline: 0800 1111.

More information about the helplines:

Identifying and reporting abuse of an adult

Who you report abuse to depends on where the adult lives and who looks after them.

  • To report concerns of abuse about an adult in an NHS hospital or clinic, contact its manager.
  • To report concerns about any other adults, including adults who live in care homes or have home carers, report abuse to your local council. If you don’t know which council, you can use this postcode finder.

If you’re unsure how severe your concern is and want to talk it through, call a helpline for advice.

  • For concerns about an elderly person, call Hourglass (formerly Action on Elder Abuse) on: 0808 808 8141 (Available 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday).
  • If you need advice on supporting someone experiencing domestic violence call the Freephone 24hr National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247.
  • If you need someone to talk to, call Samaritans: 116 123.

More information on helplines:

Reporting harassment and crimes

If you’re the victim of harassment or another crime, there are organisations to help.

  • If you're in danger or need urgent medical attention, you can call 999 to speak to the police or ask for an ambulance, or go straight to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department. Otherwise you can call the police on 101.
  • If you’re the victim of rape or sexual assault and want specialist advice including from a Sexual Assault Referral Centres, read this GOV.UK advice.
  • If you've experienced or witnesses a hate crime, you can report the incident online through True Vision
  • If you’ve been the victim or witnessed any crime, you can get specialist help on the government's victim and witness information website.
  • If harassment happens at your place of work and you feel safe to do so, you can report it to your manager, HR team or trade union to take action. For independent advice you can call the Equality Advisory and Support Service on 0808 800 0082 (limited opening times).
  • If you're a woman experiencing sexual harassment at work, you can get free employment legal advice from the Rights of Women helpline on 020 7490 0152 (limited opening times).


If you’ve reported a situation and are worried it is not being dealt with properly, speak to a whistleblowing specialist.

  • For independent advice speak to Protect who are specialists in whistleblowing related to charities via their advice line: 020 3117 2520
  • For whistleblowing relating to children, use the NSPCC's dedicated whistleblowing line: 0800 028 0285 or find out more about it on the dedicated whistleblowing page.
  • If you want to know about whistleblowing to the Charity Commission about a charity then you can read the Charity Commission whistleblowing guidance.

Other situations


Page last edited Aug 10, 2021

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