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 Teams on:

Bournemouth & Poole:      01202 738256 / Email:

Dorset:                                01202 228866 / Email:

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

Dorset Threshold Tool

MASH 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

Dorset Safeguarding Out of Hours Service 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 that do not already have an allocated worker, you should discuss this with your manager or named designated member of staff. If you still have concerns you should initially discuss your concerns with the child’s parent/carer, unless you believe that doing so could increase to risk of harm to the child or another person. If you remain concerned after discussing your concerns with the family you or your manager should:

  • Contact the MASH either by email using the Interagency Referral Form at or if urgent by telephone on 01202 228866. You should have sought consent from the family prior to contacting the MASH unless you believe the child is at risk of harm.
  • If you make a referral by telephone, you should confirm it in writing within 24 hours if you believe your concerns reach the Child Protection threshold or 48 hours if you believe the child is a Child in Need of services from Social Care. 
  • Following a referral a decision will be made by the Social Care Manager in the MASH 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 that you have made the contact with the MASH
  • If it appears that a service from Social Care might be required the case will be allocated to a social worker to undertake and assessment.  
  • Social Care should acknowledge your written referral within one working day of receiving it.

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.