Every practitioner has a responsibility to safeguard children and that includes protection from abuse by a professional, paid carer or volunteer. Therefore, the duty to report any concerns about suspected abuse and neglect applies in these situations. This duty also covers situations when abuse is only suspected.
All organisations must ensure that job descriptions, codes of conduct and contracts/service level agreements include the duty to report and safeguarding children including ensuring practitioners are aware they have a duty to report concerns about the behaviour of other practitioners.
All organisations must ensure they have whistle blowing procedures.
N.B. Certain whistle-blowers are given protection under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 and the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015
The duty to report extends beyond the working context. This means if any practitioner becomes aware of concerning behaviour of, for example, a friend, family member or neighbour, who is also a practitioner they must report their concerns.
Examples: A practitioner is aware that a teacher living on their street is being physically abusive towards their child.
A friend tells you they are struggling with their 10-year-old child’s behaviour and the only way to cope is to lock her in her bedroom. Last night she left the child in her room from after school until the following morning.
A neighbour who works in the private nursing home up the road tells you, that her children were recently placed on the child protection register for physical abuse. She hasn’t shared this information with her employers.
A friend, who is also a social worker, tells you she lets her six and eight-year-old let themselves into the house after school and stay on their own until she gets home from work three hours later.