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Themes and Processes

Welcome to the safeguarding themes information page. This resource is for professionals and volunteers who would like more information and guidance around specific safeguarding issues for children and families living in the Hampshire Local Authority area.

Listed below are a range of common safeguarding themes and agency processes providing information and, where relevant, help and advice on what to do if you are concerned for a child.

Please also refer to the Toolkits for specific information and resources on Strengthening Parental Relationships, Serious Violence, Harmful Practices, Adopting a Family Approach, Managing Self-Harm, Neglect, Safeguarding Adolescents, Understanding Unidentified Adults, Child Sexual Abuse, Safeguarding Infants, Child Exploitation, Community & Voluntary Organisations, Prevent and Child on Child Abuse.

The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Safeguarding Children Partnerships and Children’s Trust Thresholds Chart can help you to identify the risks and types of services a family may need.

Children should be safe from harm in the community as well as in their homes.

A person in a position of trust includes anyone who works with children in the course of their employment or in a voluntary capacity. Examples include:

  • Teachers and other members of school staff
  • Council employees
  • Foster carers
  • Health staff
  • Probation service staff
  • Voluntary sector staff


Help and advice

If you believe that a child has been harmed by a person in a position of trust, you should contact the Hampshire Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO):

LADO notification form

Tel: 01962 876364


The LADO should be advised of all cases where it is alleged that a person who works with children has:

  • Behaved in a way that has harmed, or may have harmed, a child.
  • Possibly committed a criminal offence against, or related to, a child.
  • Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates they may pose a risk of harm to children.

If you have a general concern about quality of care or practice, which doesn’t fit with the LADO criteria above, you should use the complaints procedure for that agency or organisation.

Please contact the LADO if you have concerns about a person’s behaviour outside of the workplace which indicates that they pose a risk of harm to the children they work with.

It should be noted that whilst the age of consent for a sexual relationship is 16 years, any sexual relationship or sexual contact with a 16-or-17-year-old by a person in a position of trust is still unlawful, even if ‘consensual’.

For further guidance, please see Hampshire County Council’s guide on allegations against people in a position of trust and the Allegations Against Staff or Volunteers HIPS procedure.


There are a number of local and national organisations who can support families, children and young people who are experiencing bereavement and loss. For further information, including training and resources for professionals, click here.


Abuse and neglect are forms of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family or an institutional or community setting, by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger for example, via the internet. They may be abused by an adult or adults, or another child or children.


Physical abuse

Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child.


Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse is the persistent maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve:

  • Conveying to a children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the need of another person.
  • Not giving a child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or “making fun” of what they say or how they communicate.
  • Age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on a child. These may include interactions that are beyond the child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction.
  • Seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another (including domestic abuse).
  • Serious bullying (including cyber bullying).
  • Causing a child to frequently feel frightened or in danger.
  • The exploitation or corruption of a child.

Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, although it may occur alone.


Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. It may involve:

  • Physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing.
  • Non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet).

Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.

A proportion of adults and children and young people who sexually abuse children have themselves been sexually abused as a child. They may also have been exposed as a child to domestic abuse and discontinuity of care. However, it would be quite wrong to suggest that most children who are sexually abused inevitably go on to become abusers themselves.



Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development.

Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:

  • Provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment).
  • Protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger.
  • Ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate caregivers).
  • Ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.

It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to a child’s basic emotional needs.


Help and advice

If you are concerned that a child you know is at risk or been subject to any form of child abuse see the Report a Concern page on what to do.

For concerns regarding neglect, please refer to the HSCP and IOWSCP Neglect Toolkit for additional support including neglect thresholds charts and neglect indicators as well as practical tools.

For further guidance on any form of child abuse, see the Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton (HIPS) Safeguarding Children Procedures Manual.


Domestic abuse is not limited to physical violence and can include a range of abusive behaviours. It can also be experienced as repeated patterns of abusive behaviour to maintain power and control in a relationship. The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 defines domestic abuse as any incident or pattern of incidents between those aged 16 years or over who:

  • are a partner
  • are an ex-partner
  • are a relative
  • have, or there has been a time when they each have had, a parental relationship in relation to the same child

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 recognises children under the age of 18 years who see, or hear, or experience the effects of the abuse, as a victim of domestic abuse if they are related or have a parental relationship to the adult victim or perpetrator of the abuse.

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 outlines the following behaviours as abuse:

  • physical or sexual abuse
  • violent or threatening behaviour
  • controlling or coercive behaviour
  • economic abuse
  • psychological, emotional, or other abuse


How does domestic abuse affect children?

Domestic abuse teaches children negative things about relationships and how to deal with people. For instance:

  • It can teach them that violence is an acceptable way to resolve conflict.
  • They learn how to keep secrets.
  • They learn to mistrust those close to them and that children are responsible and to blame for violence, especially if violence erupts after an argument about them.
  • It can impact negatively on the intimate relationships they develop in early and later life.

Children are affected in many ways by abuse, even after a short time. These effects include:

  • feeling frightened,
  • becoming withdrawn,
  • bedwetting,
  • running away,
  • aggressiveness,
  • behavioural difficulties,
  • problems with school,
  • poor concentration, and
  • emotional turmoil.

The longer children are exposed to abuse, the more severe the effects on them are.


Children suffering abuse from a girlfriend/boyfriend

In March 2015, the Crime Survey for England and Wales identified that 6.6% of men and 12.6% of women aged 16 to 19 had experienced domestic abuse in the past year. For women this is dramatically higher (42%) than the next highest category (ages 20 – 24), and for men it is almost one third higher (32%).The SafeLives report, Safe Young Lives: Young People and Domestic Abuse state that abuse can begin even earlier than age 16 for large numbers of young people. A survey of 13- to 17-year-olds found that a quarter (25%) of girls and 18% of boys reported having experienced some form of physical violence from an intimate partner.

SafeLives date shows that young people, including those below 16, can experience all forms of domestic abuse and the likelihood of experiencing high severity abuse is no different to adults. The data suggests the levels of high severity abuse may be highest for the youngest age group.

Since 2013-, 16- and 17-year-olds have been entitled to access adult domestic abuse support as a result of their inclusion in the cross-governmental definition of domestic abuse. Despite the high prevalence of abuse for this age group, the rate of referrals into support services and multi-agency risk assessment conferences (MARACs) is lower than the percentage they make up of the population. Young people aged 16 and 17 represent 3.1% of the adult (16+) population, while 1.7% of MARAC referrals, 2% of referrals into IDVA support and 1% of referrals into Outreach support are made for those aged 16 and 17 years old. For victims younger than 16, who must rely on limited specialist services for young people, the visibility of victims is likely to be even lower.


Help and advice

If you are concerned that a child you know is at risk or been subject to any form of domestic abuse see the Report a Concern page on what to do.

Please refer to the HIPS procedure Domestic Violence and Abuse and the Family Approach Protocol and Toolkit for more information and guidance.

Educational professionals can also refer to the Hampshire Domestic Abuse Partnership Domestic Abuse Guidance for Schools, Pre-Schools and Colleges.


Domestic Abuse Bill: factsheets provide more information about each of the provisions in the act.

Hampshire Domestic Abuse Partnership

Hampshire Domestic Abuse Partnership provides local domestic abuse support for victims and survivors of abuse, children living with domestic abuse, perpetrators of domestic abuse and professionals seeking advice.

Advice Line: 03300 165 112

National Domestic Violence Helpline

The Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge, is a national service for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf.

Tel: 0808 2000 247

The Men’s Advice Line

The Men’s Advice Line is for male victims of domestic abuse from a partner or ex-partner (or from other family members). They offer confidential advice, non-judgmental support, practical information and help.

Tel: 0808 801 0327

Respect Phoneline

Confidential and anonymous, the Respect Phoneline is for anyone concerned about their violence and/or abuse towards a partner or ex-partner.

Tel: 0808 802 4040

Rape Crisis

Rape Crisis Centres provide frontline specialist, independent and confidential services for women and girls who have experienced rape, sexual abuse or sexual assault.

The Rape Crisis website also provides information for partners, family, friends and other people who are supporting a survivor of sexual violence.

Tel: 0808 802 9999

The Hideout

Women’s Aid have created The Hideout to help children and young people understand domestic abuse, and how to take positive action.


Early Help means ‘identifying as early as possible if a child or family need support and helping them to access services, working together to ensure that this has maximum impact. In other words, offering the right help at the right time.’ Early Help and Family Support is provided to children and their families who have multiple needs and require a co-ordinated multi-agency response.

All agencies who work with children and families are responsible for delivering Early Help services in Hampshire. Together, they provide a joined-up, whole family service to those families in need.

Hampshire Early Help services are for families with children aged 0 to 19 years of age.


Eligibility and thresholds of need

Hampshire Children’s Services provide effective, evidence-based services to meet the different levels of needs of children, young people and their families. The Hampshire Safeguarding Children’s Partnership (HSCP) and Children’s Trust thresholds, together with the Hampshire early help intervention pathway allows professionals to identify the level of service and support that best meets the family’s needs:

Level 1 – Universal (School, GPs, Health visiting, School nursing)

Level 2 – Early Help (Single agency/partnership working – Schools, Local Partnerships, Health, Children’s Centres, Youth Support)

Level 3 – Targeted Early Help (Coordinated multi-agency response – Early Help Hub provision)

Level 4 – Statutory Children’s Social Care


Early Help Hubs

The Family Support Service (FSS) coordinates the early help offering through multi-agency early help hubs.

If a family meets the early help threshold for Level 3 support services, then a targeting, multi-agency approach is required.  The professional who made the referral will be asked to present the family’s case at their local early help hub. The hub meeting will include members from the FFS and other local service providers. A family plan will then be drafted, and an early help coordinator will be appointed to oversee the plan.


Help and advice

If you are concerned that a child you know is at risk see the Report a Concern page on what to do. If you think a  child, young person or family would benefit from extra support, refer to the early help intervention pathway and the HSCP and Children’s Trust thresholds chart. These will help you identify the right level of support for the family and what steps to take to access that support.

If the family meets the threshold for Level 1 support:

If the family meets the threshold for Level 2 support:

If the family meets the threshold for Level 3 or 4 support:


Hampshire County Council guidance and information


Statutory procedures

Hampshire County Council’s statutory procedures page for education settings provides national statutory guidance, local safeguarding children partnership procedures, copies of model policies and inspection frameworks that can be used as a foundation for school policies.

Self-harm and suicidal behaviour guidance for schools and colleges

See the HIPS (Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton) Procedures on self-harm and suicidal behaviour for further information, indicators and advice. This includes the Hampshire Suicide Prevention and Postvention Protocol for schools and colleges and the managing self-harm resource sheet for education staff and parents.

Domestic Abuse Guidance for Pre-Schools, Schools and Colleges

Hampshire Domestic Abuse Partnership Domestic Abuse Guidance for Schools, Pre-Schools and Colleges.

The purpose of the guidance is to increase awareness among those working with children and young people about domestic abuse and provide support to staff in an education setting to have conversations with young people and their carers.

The guidance covers:

  1. Identifying when someone may be experiencing domestic abuse.
  2. Talking to parents and responding to disclosures.
  3. Support with safety planning and accessing support.


Local Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews often highlight failings in communication and information sharing amongst professionals. Given the centrality of effective communication to safeguarding work, it is inevitable that this remains one of the key points of break-down. Such communication requires practitioner skills, effective facilitative systems, and a culture that promotes information sharing for the protection of children.

The HIPS Procedures – Information Sharing protocols and guidance has been developed to support good practice in information sharing by offering clarity on when, and how, information can be shared legally and professionally, in order to achieve improved outcomes.

The guidance is for professionals who have to make decisions about sharing personal information on a case-by-case basis, whether they are:

  • Working in the public, private or voluntary sectors.
  • Providing services to children and young people.
  • Working as an employee, a contractor or a volunteer.


A proportion of adults known to the mental health, substance misuse, physical/sensory and learning disability services have children. In common with the population as a whole, most of these parents are committed to their children and want what is best for them. The presence of additional vulnerabilities for adults as parents/carers does not automatically preclude the possibility of good parenting.

It is important, therefore, that when working with an individual within a family, whether a child or adult, a holistic approach is required. This considers the individual as a member of the family who will be affected by their behaviours and who, in turn, will have an impact on each family member. These impacts may be positive and supportive or may be negative.

When considering any vulnerabilities or risks identified, practitioners should consider the support available to the individual and family from extended family, the wider community and other professionals.

Help and advice

If you are concerned that a child you know is at risk due to issues affecting parental capacity, see the Report a Concern page on what to do.

The HIPS Procedures for Parents who have Additional Needs has been developed for anyone working with people whose complex problems might impact on their ability to care for children and for those working with children whose parents or carers have those complex needs. It gives information about research and guidance for good practice in the areas of substance misuse, domestic violence and abuse, children of parents with mental health problems and children of parents with learning disabilities.

Also see the Family Approach Protocol and Toolkit for more information and support.

The HSCP Practitioner Guide on The Impact of Learning Disabilities on Parenting summarises research findings carried out by the University of Bristol. It also provides real life case studies of positive practice.


Hampshire Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

Hampshire Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is an NHS specialist service for young people up to the age of 18 years and their families who are experiencing difficulties with their emotional and psychological health, and who are suffering with acute, chronic and severe mental health problems.

Hampshire CAMHS work with young people, their families and other organisations to achieve the following:

  • Assess and diagnose mental health and neurodevelopmental difficulties.
  • Identify realistic goals or changes.
  • Identify and build on strength.
  • Improve self-esteem and confidence to cope with difficulties.
  • Learn emotional coping techniques to help manage difficult or upsetting thoughts, feelings, urges or experiences.
  • Empower the young person to identify, express and communicate their needs, take responsibility for their health and wellbeing and feel confident in knowing where and how to get additional support if necessary.

CAMHS cannot “cure” mental health difficulties or prevent difficulties ever coming back, but they can help a young person build skills of their own to help them achieve their potential and get the most out of their life.

Help and advice

There are many services that help young people with emotional and mental health needs. Most young people find these services help them to recover and better manage their emotions and mental health.  For a few children and young people, further specialist support from CAMHS is needed. See the Hampshire CAMHS threshold guidance to help identify levels of support.

There are many local services offering a range of support. Below are a few that cover the whole of Hampshire and that CAMHS recommend:

The above services and several local services accept referrals from parents or professionals.  Referrals do not have to come from CAMHS. Referral forms can be accessed via their websites.

As a specialist service, Hampshire CAMHS expect people to have accessed self-help opportunities and other services in the community before making a referral to Hampshire CAMHS. If the young person has accessed the agencies above, or something similar in their local area and you think more specialist support is needed then consider a CAMHS referral.

It is always recommended speaking to CAMHS for advice and guidance before making a referral to decide whether CAMHS is the right service. CAMHS may also be able to offer recommendations about other services, organisations and support that may be helpful. A professionals consultation line is available Monday to Friday, 9am – 2pm.

Tel: 0300 304 0050.

If after proceeding through these steps as a professional, you conclude a referral is required, then the preferred referral route is to use the online referral form. This form is likely to take an hour to complete. It is important that professionals ensure that they have all the information to hand prior to starting. Referral information should be detailed and include examples.

Referral forms should be sent to CAMHS are happy to receive copies of any reports you have that may provide additional and relevant information. These can be sent via email at: Any additional information must be clearly identified to relate to the child you have submitted a referral for.

The referral will be reviewed by a team of clinicians in the Single Point of Access (SPA) to make an informed decision as to whether a referral for assessment is accepted or whether signposting to other services and/or self-help is more appropriate.

For further information see:

Also see the HSCP Practitioner Guide on Hampshire CAMHS for a comprehensive overview of the service.

Hampshire County Council

Read the Starting Well – Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Strategy for Children and Young People in Hampshire 2019-2024, developed on behalf of the Starting Well for Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Partnership.

Community Care

The Looked-after children and self-harm podcast covers what self-harm is and how social workers can support young people and carers.

Self-harm and suicidal behaviour guidance for schools and colleges

See the HIPS (Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton) Procedures on self-harm and suicidal behaviour for further information, indicators and advice. This includes the Hampshire Suicide Prevention and Postvention Protocol for schools and colleges and the managing self-harm resource sheet for education staff and parents.

Private Fostering is when a child under the age of 16 (under 18, if disabled) is cared for by someone who is not their parent or a ‘close relative’. This is a private arrangement made between a parent and a carer, for 28 days or more.

It is not private fostering if the carer is a close relative to the child such as a step-parent, grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt. This is known as Informal Family Care.

If a private fostering arrangement is made, there is a legal obligation on carers and parents to notify the Children’s Services Department in Hampshire County Council. They need to be sure that the child is safe, healthy and happy and can offer support to private foster carers and parents where needed.

For further guidance click here.

Help and advice

If a member of the public has a private fostering arrangement they should be encouraged to inform Hampshire Children’s Services by calling:

Tel: 0300 555 1384

Professionals should use their usual referral routes or contact Children’s Services through the Report a Concern page

Hampshire County Council

See the Caring for Children page for more information about informal family care and private fostering in Hampshire, including how to inform Children’s Services.

Child Law Advice

The private fostering page explains the law relating to the situation whereby a child goes to live with a person who is not their parent or a ‘connected person’. It explains the duties of the local authority to assess the suitability of the prospective private foster carer and provide support where necessary.