UK

Child abuse whistle-blowing helpline launched by NSPCC and Home Office

A child on a swing Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption In one case, police failed to investigate men who had allegedly given drugs to a girl in exchange for sex

A whistle-blowing helpline for employees in England to raise concerns about child protection failures in the workplace is to be launched on Monday.

Run by the NSPCC for the Home Office, which has provided £500,000, it will advise callers from any sector on whistle-blowing and help protect them from any resulting discrimination.

The charity's boss said the "vital" service would help children in danger.

The helpline number is 0800 0280285, from 08:00 to 20:00 Monday to Friday.

Any concerns raised will be passed on to relevant authorities to investigate.

The establishment of the helpline follows the Rotherham abuse scandal, in which at least 1,400 children were sexually exploited amid a series of collective failures by the authorities.

'Fear of consequences'

The helpline is aimed at staff in any sector who are afraid to raise concerns about the way their organisation is dealing with child abuse cases or potential risks to children, or who feel they have exhausted all avenues with their employer.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: "If an employee thinks a child is in danger or has been failed by their organisation then nothing should stand in the way of them speaking out.

"Too often people with concerns have kept silent because they have been fearful of the consequences for their jobs, and this can have devastating consequences for the children involved.

"A feature of the child abuse scandals of recent years has been people who said they thought something wasn't right but were unsure whether they could discuss their concerns confidentially outside their organisation."


Rotherham abuse

1,400

children were abused, 1997-2013

  • 1/3 of victims were already known to social services

  • 157 reports concerning child sexual exploitation made to police in 2013

  • 10 prosecutions were made between 2013 and April 2014

Getty

Karen Bradley, minister for preventing abuse, exploitation and crime, said the helpline would be "a vital service in our fight to end child abuse, including sexual exploitation".

"No-one should be afraid to report concerns about failures in child protection."

The new service will also be used to highlight patterns of failure across the country.

The NSPCC said it would work with authorities to gather information about reports relating to child abuse in order to identify and address trends.

The helpline will also be able to receive emails. Those who call at the weekend or outside the operating hours will be able to leave their details so they can be contacted later.

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