Reporting a Concern

If you are concerned about a child’s welfare or worried they are being abused, you can make a referral to Children’s Social Care.


If the child lives in Dorset contact:

Telephone:             01202 228866



If the child lives in Poole, contact:

Telephone:               01202 735046



If the child lives in Bournemouth, contact

Telephone:                 01202 458101



If your concern requires immediate advice out of normal office hours please contact the Out of Hours Team on Tel: 01202 657279

To inform your contact or referral, please refer to the following local documents:

Dorset Threshold Tool

Dorset Inter-Agency Referral Form

Safeguarding Concerns Referral Advice and Information

Child Protection Enquiry and Local Office Checks


You may want to display the following information in staff and public areas:

DSCB Safeguarding Awareness Poster

Responding to concerns about a child: the 5 R’s Disclosure Poster

Safeguarding Procedures Poster

Safeguarding Referral Poster

DSCB Safeguarding Leaflet



If you make your assessment under the thresholds tool and feel your concerns aren’t being responded to appropriately, please refer to the Dorset Escalation Policy.



What is a child?

In the Children Acts 1989 and 2004, a child is anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday.

The fact that a child has reached 16 years of age, is living independently or is in further education, is a member of the armed forces, is in hospital, in prison or in a Young Offenders’ Institution does not change his or her entitlement to services or protection.

Safeguarding is:

  • protecting children from maltreatment
  • preventing impairment of children’s health or development
  • ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care
  • taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes

Child Protection is:

  • a part of safeguarding and promoting welfare. This refers to the activity that is undertaken to protect specific children who are suffering, or are at risk of suffering, significant harm
  • child protection is essential as part of wider work to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. However, all agencies and individuals should aim proactively to safeguard and promote the welfare of children so that the need for action to protect children from harm is reduced

A child is ‘in need’ if:

  • He/she is unlikely to achieve or maintain, or have the opportunity of achieving or maintaining, a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision for him/her of services by a local authority;
  • His/her health or development is likely to be significantly impaired, or further impaired, without the provision for him/her of such services; or
  • He/she is a Disabled Child.

Making a Referral

If you have concerns about a child or children, you should discuss your concerns with your manager or named designated member of staff.

  • If you still have concerns, you or your manager should discuss your concerns with the Child Care Duty Officer at the Social Care Local Office.
  • If, after this discussion, you and your manager still have concerns, you or your manager should make a referral to the Social Care Team responsible for the area in which the child lives.
  • If you or your manager makes your referral by telephone, you should confirm it in writing within 48 hours.  Social Care should acknowledge your written referral within one working day of receiving it. If you have not heard back within three working days, you should contact the Duty Officer again.
  • Following a referral, the Social Care Duty Officer will discuss the information provided by you with a Social Care manager. A decision will be made by the Social Care manager on what course of action will be taken. If the information provided indicates that a service is not required from Social Care, the referral will be recorded as a ‘contact’ and the family informed. If it appears that a service from Social Care might be required an Initial Assessment will be completed and the family and child will be visited by a Social Worker/Social Work Assistant.

Discussing your referral with parents

  • In general, professionals working directly with children and their families (e.g. play workers, Sports Coaches) should seek to discuss their concerns with the child and/or their parents and seek their agreement to making a referral to Children’s Social Care.
  • If such a discussion would place the child at an increased risk of significant harm then this discussion should not take place and the referral made without the knowledge of the parents.