Back to The duty to report a child at risk of abuse, neglect and/ or harm

The ‘statutory duty to report’ explained

For the purposes of this guidance a duty to report to the local authority will be taken to mean a referral to social services who, alongside the police, have statutory powers to investigate suspected abuse or neglect. The term ‘practitioner’ has been used as a blanket term to describe anyone who is in paid employment as well as unpaid volunteers.

A report must be made whenever a practitioner has concerns about a child under the age of 18 years who:


If any person has knowledge, concerns or suspicions that a child is suffering, has suffered or is likely to be at risk of harm, it is their responsibility to ensure that the concerns are referred to social services or the police who have statutory duties and powers to make enquiries and intervene when necessary.


‘At risk’

The use of the term ‘at risk’ means that actual abuse, neglect or other kinds of harm (see Section 1 of Procedures for further information) do not necessarily need to occur, rather without interventions by services actual abuse and neglect are likely to occur.

Example: A practitioner becomes aware of a parent who is struggling to manage the challenging behaviour of their child and has indicated they are worried they will harm their child. A referral should be made before the situation deteriorates to the point whereby, they may resort to physical or emotional abuse.

Definitions of children at risk of abuse and neglect

Pointers for Practice: Signs and Indicators of Abuse and Neglect