Practitioners have a responsibility to report any concerns they are alerted to by the general public - both in their work and private lives. A neighbour, family member, friend, acquaintance may inform a practitioner about abuse and neglect.
It is important that the practitioner lets the member of the public know that as a practitioner they have a duty to report these concerns.
Example: An occupational therapist is at a party. Another guest begins talking to them and tells the occupational therapist that she’s left her husband looking after their children aged 9 and 11. She is separate from her husband. The guest is worried about this as she suspects, from what the children have said, he is photographing them undressed. The practitioner has a duty to report.
Practitioners may be approached in their professional capacity by members of the public who have concerns about risk of harm to a child.
Examples: a class teacher may hear from a parent that a child who came to play told the parent ‘my daddy likes touching me in my pants’. The practitioner has a duty to report.
A housing officer is told by a resident in a block of flats that two young children are often left alone during the evening in the neighbouring flat. The practitioner has a duty to report.
If a member of the public discusses their safeguarding concerns with a practitioner, either in their work or home life, the practitioner has a duty to report the concerns to social services.
They must not leave it to the member of public to contact social services or just advise the person to contact social services directly.
When making a report that comes from the public, practitioners must:
record exactly what has been said by the member of the public;
give the information provided to them;
establish what evidence the member of the public has regarding the risk of harm. for example, have they witnessed abuse, spoken to the individual who is at risk of harm, or heard something?
explain that whilst respecting any wish to remain anonymous this may not always be possible, for example if a crime is suspected.
Where possible, members of the public should be encouraged to provide their contact details.