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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.

Everything we do is underpinned by two key principles:

  1. Safeguarding is everybody’s responsibility – for services to be effective each professional and organisation should play their full part.
  2. A child centred approach – for services to be effective they should be based on a clear understanding of the needs and views of the individual children whilst recognising the support parents and carers may require.

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 the family approach, abusive head trauma, safe sleep, female genital mutilation, self-harm, neglect, unidentified adults and safeguarding adolescents.

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.


Breast ironing is a harmful cultural practice and is child abuse.

The United Nations (UN) states that breast ironing affects 3.8 million women around the world and has been identified as one of the five under-reported crimes relating to gender-based violence.  It is a practice whereby the breasts of girls, typically aged eight to 16, are pounded using tools such as spatulas, grinding stones, hot stones and hammers to delay the appearance of puberty.

Breast ironing is often carried out by the girl’s mother in the belief that she is:

  • Protecting her daughter from sexual harassment and/or rape.
  • Preventing the risk of early pregnancy by “removing” signs of puberty.
  • Preventing her daughter from being forced into marriage, so she will have the opportunity to continue with her education.

Breast ironing is a cultural custom originating in Cameroon, where up to 24% of girls are believed to have experienced it. It is also practiced in other nations such as Ginea-Bissau, Chad, Togo, Benin, Guinea.

However, there are indications that the tradition has now spread to Central and West African Diaspora living within the UK, and according to Came Women and Girls Development Organisation (CAWOGIDO) breast ironing is on the rise.

  • Around 1,000 nine to 15-year-old girls in the UK are currently thought to be at risk of breast ironing.
  • It is currently unknown how many girls are at risk from breast ironing in Hampshire.
  • According to a UN report, 58% of perpetrators are the victims’ own mothers.

Breast ironing is often a well-kept secret between the girl and her mother. This can make it difficult for professionals to identify. Care must be taken to navigate the deep-seated cultural belief and familial sensitivity of this practice. Many girls will not disclose that they are a victim of breast ironing for fear that their mother will get into trouble; or they believe it is being done for their own good.

Some signs that a girl is at risk from breast ironing include:

  • Unusual behaviour after an absence from school or college including depression, anxiety, aggression, becoming withdrawn.
  • Reluctance in undergoing medical examinations.
  • Some girls may ask for help, but may not be explicit about the problem due to embarrassment or fear.
  • Fear of changing for physical activities due to scars showing or bandages being visible.

Like other forms of harmful cultural practice, such as female genital mutilation (FGM), breast ironing is an extremely painful process for the victim. Contrary to the beliefs of its proponents, breast ironing does not decrease the likelihood of its victims experiencing sexual violence or becoming sexually active. Many Cameroonian men have been unaware that the practice exists until recently, due to the growth in campaigns to tackle the issue.

The process of breast ironing combined with insufficient aftercare leaves young girls exposed to significant health risks including:

  • Cysts and lesions.
  • Breast cancer.
  • An inability to produce breast milk.
  • Complete or partial eradication of single or both breasts.

There is currently no known research on the effects on the psychological wellbeing of victims. There is no specific law within the UK around breast ironing; however, it is recognised as a form of physical abuse.


Help and advice

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


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.


Hampshire Safeguarding Children Partnership (HSCP) is committed to build on its approach to identifying and responding to all forms of exploitation such as child criminal exploitation, child sexual exploitation and country lines These issues are a key priority for HSCP.

The Local Safeguarding Children Partnerships (LSCPs) across the Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton (HIPS) areas, via the HIPS Executive Group, have made a strong commitment to collaborate and find common ways of working for shared and complex areas of child safeguarding.

The HIPS Child Exploitation Strategy 2020-23 sets out how all agencies will work together to ensure the most effective and coordinated response to identify and protect children (all those under 18yrs) at risk of exploitation both within and across the HIPS LSCP areas.

The strategy, and associated action plan, is aligned with the following themes:

  • Understand and identify – strengthen the identification and assessment of children at risk of exploitation.
  • Prevention – raise awareness of exploitation issues across agencies, children and their families and the wider Hampshire community.
  • Intervene and support – improve safeguarding of vulnerable children deemed to be at risk of exploitation. Provide direct therapeutic support and access to specialist services.
  • Disrupt and Divert – lead in disrupting perpetrator behaviour and bringing those offenders to justice by building an accurate and clear picture of local trends and networks.


Disruption of Child Exploitation

The Home Office Child Exploitation Disruption Toolkit provides an overview of disruption tactics for those working to safeguard children and young people under the age of 18 from sexual and criminal exploitation.



HSCP delivers a number of learning events to raise professional awareness of child exploitation. Our Child Exploitation Group have developed a set of training slides that can be used to raise awareness of these issues.


How to share intelligence/information with Hampshire Constabulary

The Community Partnership Information Form has been designed by Hampshire Constabulary as a conduit for partner agencies to share non-urgent information relating to child exploitation and other related safeguarding issues. This form does not replace a contact to Children’s Services.

The police intelligence department will always protect the source and provenance. This means personal information and how it was obtained is not available for general view. Great care is taken to remove any reference or indicator of the source or provenance and this information is not shared with other law enforcement agencies or partners.

If the police need to re-contact a source (which is rare but may be necessary to seek clarification) this will be direct from an officer or operative of the Intelligence Unit. Prior to approaching the source, the police will contact the professional who submitted the form to seek their authority (please ensure the box is ticked on the form to agree to this). If the source details are not supplied, there is a danger the police may respond in a way which compromises the source as they may be unable to correctly grade and risk assess the intelligence. Therefore, it is important the source details are included on the form.


Help and advice

If you are concerned that a child you know is at risk or been subject to any form of child exploitation see the Report a Concern page on what to do. A CERAF (Child Exploitation Risk Assessment Framework) should also be completed as soon as potential concerns regarding any form of child exploitation are identified. This may include child sexual exploitation, child criminal exploitation, county lines, modern day slavery or child trafficking concerns.

For further guidance and resources see the Children who are Exploited HIPS procedure.

HIPS Child Exploitation Newsletters

The Safeguarding Children Partnerships of Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton (HIPS) all work together to tackle child exploitation. A HIPS Child Exploitation Newsletter is published every quarter to keep professionals in all four areas up-to-date with issues and progress discussed, and to flag up local and national campaigns.


Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) is a form of child abuse.  It occurs when an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, control, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into any criminal activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial or other advantage of the perpetrator or facilitator and/or (c) through violence or threat of violence. The victim may have been criminally exploited even if the activity appears consensual. CCE does not always involve physical contact, it can occur through the use of technology.


County Lines

‘County lines’ is a form of criminal exploitation. It is a police term for urban gangs supplying drugs to suburban areas and market and coastal towns using dedicated mobile phone lines or ‘deal lines’. It involves CCE as gangs use children and vulnerable people to move drugs and money. Gangs establish a base in the market location, typically by taking over the homes of local vulnerable adults by force or coercion in a practice referred to as ‘cuckooing’.

Hampshire Safeguarding Children Partnership (HSCP) has a strategic focus on county lines due to the geographical location of Hampshire, its transport links with London and the mix of rural and city conurbations.

A typical county lines scenario is defined by the following components:

  • A group (not necessarily affiliated as a gang) establishes a network between an urban hub and county location, into which drugs (primarily heroin and crack cocaine) are supplied.
  • A branded mobile phone line is established in the market, to which orders are placed by introduced customers. The line will commonly (but not exclusively) be controlled by a third party, remote from the market.
  • The group exploits young or vulnerable persons, to achieve the storage and/or supply of drugs, movement of cash proceeds and to secure the use of dwellings (commonly referred to as cuckooing).
  • The group or individuals exploited by them regularly travel between the urban hub and the county market, to replenish stock and deliver cash.
  • The group is inclined to use intimidation, violence and weapons, including knives, corrosives and firearms.


Help and Advice

If you are concerned that a child you know is at risk or been subject to any form of child exploitation see the Report a Concern page on what to do. A CERAF (Child Exploitation Risk Assessment Framework) should also be completed as soon as potential concerns regarding any form of child exploitation are identified. This may include child sexual exploitation, child criminal exploitation, county lines, modern day slavery or child trafficking concerns.

For further guidance and resources see the Children who are Exploited HIPS procedure.

Hampshire Constabulary

The Hampshire Constabulary Safe4Me website provides detailed information on CCE and county lines. See the website for education resources, support services and linked topics.

Police & Crime Commissioner Hampshire and Isle of Wight

The Police & Crime Commissioner’s website provides useful information on the Youth Commission’s campaign on Exploitation #RaiseAFlag. See the website for further details.


‘Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. CSE does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology’ (Child sexual exploitation, HM Government, February 2017).

CSE is never the victim’s fault, even if there is some form of exchange:

All children and young people under the age of 18 have a right to be safe and should be protected from harm.


What are the signs a child might be being sexually exploited?

  • Adults or older youths loitering around children’s homes, care placement or school.
  • Persistently missing, staying out at night or returning late with no plausible explanation.
  • Leaving home/care setting in clothing unusual for the individual child (for example, inappropriate for age, borrowing clothing from older children).
  • Acquisition of expensive clothes or clothes that are inappropriate (for example, skimpy); mobile phones or other possessions without reasonable plausible explanation.
  • Truancy/disengagement with education or considerable change in performance at school.
  • Volatile behaviour exhibiting an extreme array of mood swings or use of abusive language.
  • Getting involved in petty crime such as shoplifting or stealing.
  • Entering or leaving vehicles driven by unknown adults and going ‘cruising’ with older people.
  • Being taken to parties in private dwellings, hotels/guest houses.
  • Hostility in relationship with parents/carers and other family members.
  • Returning after having been missing, looking well cared for, in spite of having no known home base.
  • Returning after having been missing in a dishevelled state, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, hungry, dirty, dehydrated distressed
  • Showing signs of sexual activity/abuse including sexually transmitted infections, terminations, repeated pregnancy testing, pregnancy itself, a reluctance to disclose detail.
  • Decline in mental health and wellbeing including self-harm, overdoses.
  • Being picked up from outside home, school or on the street in unknown cars or taxis which have not been booked.


Key points

  • Exploitation can be isolated (one-on-one) or organised group/criminal activity.
  • There can be a big age gap between victim and perpetrator, but it can also be peer-on-peer.
  • Boys can be targeted just as easily as girls – sexual exploitation is not gender specific.
  • Perpetrators can be women and not just men.
  • Exploitation can be between males and females or between the same genders.
  • Children with learning difficulties can be particularly vulnerable to exploitation as can children from particular groups, for example, looked after children, young carers, children who have a history of physical, sexual emotional abuse or neglect or mental health problems; children who use drugs or alcohol, children who go missing from home or school, children involved in crime, children with parents/carers who have mental health problems, learning difficulties/other issues, children who associate with other children involved in exploitation. However, it is important to recognise that any child can be targeted.
  • Exploitation can take the form of ‘cyber exploitation’ – for example, through mobile phones, apps, gaming rooms and other social media sites.


Help and Advice

If you are concerned that a child you know is at risk or been subject to any form of child exploitation see the Report a Concern page on what to do. A CERAF (Child Exploitation Risk Assessment Framework) should also be completed as soon as potential concerns regarding any form of child exploitation are identified. This may include child sexual exploitation, child criminal exploitation, county lines, modern day slavery or child trafficking concerns.

For further guidance and resources see the Children who are Exploited HIPS procedure.

Department for Education

The Child Sexual Exploitation guide, developed by the Department for Education, I provides non-statutory advice  for practitioners, local leaders and decision makers who work with children and families to identify child sexual exploitation and take appropriate action in response. This includes the management, disruption and prosecution of perpetrators.

Safer Young Lives Research Centre

This international research centre seeks to increase the understanding of, and improve responses to, CSE, violence and trafficking. The website includes their latest research.

The Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre (CEOP)

CEOP is part of the National Crime Agency and works with child protection partners across the UK and overseas to identify the main threats to children and coordinates activity against these threats that bring offenders to account. The website includes a section for professionals to help deliver education and raise awareness of online child exploitation.

The Children’s Society

The Children’s Society provides a useful resource on preventing child sexual exploitation.


Barnardo’s is the largest national children’s charity and the largest provider of child sexual exploitation support services in the UK. They provide information on the work that they do and links to their own research and resources relating to CSE.

PACE (Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation)

PACE works alongside parents and carers of children who are being, or are at risk of being, sexually or criminally exploited by perpetrators external to the family.


The NSPCC is the UK’s leading children’s charity and provides information, research and resources on CSE.

Lucy Faithfull Foundation – preventing child sexual abuse

The Eradicating CSE Toolkit, is a free international prevention toolkit for practitioners and policy makers committed to tackling child sexual abuse. The toolkit provides guidance on understanding and preventing CSE.

CSE Police and Prevention

The CSE Police and Prevention programme is aimed at preventing and lowering incidences of child criminal exploitation and modern-day slavery, as well as child sexual abuse and exploitation. The National Child Sexual Exploitation Action Plan focuses on four approaches to help target offenders and protect children and young people through new ways of working. Across the site you can learn more about the analysis, the work undertaken, and resources developed to achieve the ambitions of the Action Plan.


Child trafficking is an abuse of an individual’s human rights and is a form of child abuse.

Child trafficking is defined as the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt” of a child for the purpose of exploitation. This definition comes from the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons (“Palermo Protocol”), which has been adopted by the UK and the majority of countries around the world, making it the internationally accepted definition of human trafficking. A child is defined by the Palermo Protocol and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as any person under the age of 18. In the UK, trafficking is regarded as a form of modern slavery (ECPAT UK).

The trafficking of children is a process comprised of two distinct stages: the Act and the Purpose. This is the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or reception of persons, including the exchange or transfer of control over those persons … for the purpose of exploitation.” The definition of child trafficking differs slightly from that of adults, which requires an extra stage for trafficking to be present – that of the Means, “of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person”. The Means stage is not required for the definition of child trafficking. This is not to say that this stage does not occur for child victims, but the definition recognises that a child cannot give informed consent to his or her own exploitation, even if he or she agrees to travel or understands what has happened (ECPAT UK).

Trafficking can occur across international borders (i.e., into and out of the UK) but also within borders. The latter is commonly known as ‘internal trafficking’. This means that children who are moved around the UK for the purposes of exploitation, whether they are children from abroad or citizen children, can be considered victims of trafficking. Many children may have been trafficked to other countries prior to arriving in the UK (ECPAT UK).

Children and young people are usually recruited by coercive or subversive means, taken on dangerous journeys with false papers and ID and, at their destination, they are kept in a controlled environment by means of threats or violence. Some children may be escorted by a person stating that they are a relative. Most children are trafficked for financial gain such as domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, benefit fraud, sweatshop work in catering or agriculture, illegal adoption and many more.


Indicators of cross-international child trafficking

The child at the point of entry:

  • Entered illegally without passport or ID papers.
  • Has false papers, goods and money not accounted for.
  • Has no adult with them or to meet them.
  • Is with an adult who refuses to leave them alone.
  • Has no money but a working mobile phone.
  • Is reluctant to give personal details.

Once in the UK the child:

  • Receives unexplained calls.
  • Has money from an unknown source.
  • Shows signs of sexual or physical abuse.
  • Has not been enrolled in a school or with a GP.
  • Seems to do work in various locations.

The child’s ‘sponsor’:

  • Has previously made multiple visa applications for other children or acted as guarantor; or
  • Is known to have acted as guarantor for others who have not returned to their countries of origin at the expiry of the visas.


Identification of trafficked children

Identification of trafficked children can be difficult, as they might not show obvious signs of distress or abuse. Some children are unaware that they have been trafficked; while others may actively participate in hiding that they have been trafficked. Any child transported for exploitative reasons is considered to be a trafficking victim in line with the Palermo Protocol, whether or not they have been forced or deceived. This is partly because it is not considered possible for children to give informed consent. Even when a child understands what has happened, they may still appear to submit willingly to what they believe to be the will of their parents or accompanying adults. It is important that these children are protected too.

Potential victims of modern slavery may:

  • Be reluctant to come forward with information.
  • Not recognise themselves as having been trafficked or enslaved.
  • Tell their stories with obvious errors.

If the victim’s trafficker or modern slavery facilitator is present when the victim is questioned initially, frontline staff must look out for non-verbal communication and body language between the victim and trafficker or modern slavery facilitator.

Victims’ early accounts may also be affected by the impact of trauma. In particular, victims may experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can result in the following symptoms:

  • Hostility
  • Aggression
  • Difficulty in recalling details or entire episodes
  • Difficulty concentrating

Child victims may find it additionally hard to disclose as the traffickers may have given them inaccurate information about the role of authorities, or they may have had bad experiences with corrupt authorities in their home country or during their journey.


Help and Advice

If you are concerned that a child you know is at risk or been subject to any form of child exploitation see the Report a Concern page on what to do. A CERAF (Child Exploitation Risk Assessment Framework) should also be completed as soon as potential concerns regarding any form of child exploitation are identified. This may include child sexual exploitation, child criminal exploitation, county lines, modern day slavery or child trafficking concerns.

For further guidance and resources see the Children who are Exploited HIPS procedure.

Every Child Protected Against Trafficking

Every Child Protected Against Trafficking (ECPAT UK) is a leading children’s rights organisation working to protect children from trafficking and transnational exploitation. They support children everywhere to uphold their rights and to live a life free from abuse and exploitation. The website includes practitioner resources, including legislation, guidance and tools.


Adolescents who go missing are at greater risk of physical abuse, grooming and Sexual Exploitation.

Going missing can be a warning sign of a range of serious harms including sexual and criminal exploitation; bullying; mental health issues; and unhappiness in the home. Looked after children may also go missing because they want to spend time with their family or in their home area if they have been moved away to a placement.

There are also risks to reporting a child to the police as missing inappropriately. Research has shown that over-involving the police in a child’s life, including by reporting them missing unnecessarily, can cause significant harm and can damage the child’s relationships with the professionals around them.


What do children want?

The young people consulted for Children’s views on being reported missing from care, a report from the Missing People charity, want carers and professionals, such as social workers, and the police to avoid making assumptions about them and why they might have gone missing.

Professionals should try to understand the reason for a child going missing acknowledging that every child is different and will be facing different challenges.

It is not inevitable that young people will go missing. Carers and professionals such as social workers, and the police should genuinely attempt to mitigate any issues that may cause a child to go missing. This should include building positive relationships with the young people in their care and getting to know them. This can also help to inform decision making if the child is not where they are supposed to be.

Children do not want the police to automatically be contacted if they are not where they are supposed to be. Decisions around contacting the police should be made based on each situation and subject to risks and the circumstances at that time.

The police should never be contacted as a disciplinary measure. It is vital that the police are contacted when a child is at risk of coming to harm.

When the police do have contact with a missing young person, they should act supportively and respectfully towards them.

Professionals should try to understand the unique challenges facing looked after children, including the conflict in wanting to be treated like other children but also needing their often complicated circumstances to be taken into account.

There are a range of push and pull factors that might cause children to go missing which have been identified by young people:

Children have suggested a number of actions that carers, and professionals such as social workers, and the police might consider subject to the perceived level of risk:

What professionals should consider when deciding what to do

  • Be sensitive in both contacting the child, and in any contact with their friends or friends’ families.
  • When contacting the child ensure that they do not feel pressured or blamed.
  • When contacting their friends, they should allow the missing child some privacy and not single them out for being in care.
  • Get to know the child to understand how best to support them and ensure the most appropriate response if go missing.


Reporting a child missing to the police

Contacting the police is a moment of escalation and therefore it is important to use other options to contact the missing child or facilitate their return first, unless the circumstances suggest there is an immediate risk.

Where there are thought to be significant risks for the child a missing episode should be reported to the Police for example:

It is important to understand the reasons a child goes missing. What are the things going on in their life that might mean it is more important to report them missing to the police if no one knows where they are?


Help and Advice

For more information visit the Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton (HIPS) Safeguarding Procedure 3.8 Children and Families that go Missing.

Missing People

The Missing People charity provide a range of services for professionals.


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 (HDAP) 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 (HDAP) 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.


Honour-based abuse (HBA) is the term used to refer to a collection of practices used predominantly to control the behaviour of women and girls within families or other social groups in order to protect supposed cultural and religious beliefs, values and social norms in the name of ‘honour’.

Under UK law, HBA is a breach of the victim’s human rights and a form of domestic abuse.

HBA may be committed against people who:

  • Become involved with a boyfriend or girlfriend from a different culture, religion or caste.
  • Want to escape an arranged or forced marriage.
  • Have adopted Westernised dress or take part in activities, which may not be considered traditional within a particular culture. Women and girls are the most common victims of HBV. However, it can also affect men and boys.

Crimes committed in the name of honour may include assaults, disfigurement, versions of sati (burning), sexual assault and rape, forced marriage, dowry abuse, female genital mutilation, kidnap, false imprisonment and stalking.

In the most extreme cases, people are killed because their actions are considered to be dishonourable.

Honour-based crime may not involve violence. It can also include:

  • Psychological abuse.
  • Written or verbal threats.
  • Abusive phone calls, emails and messages.

Victims may also be ‘cast out’ by their family and community with very little support. This is high risk for those who have no access to any money or financial support. Culture teaches victims that they will not survive without their family and community and many victims believe this as they have no life experience (and in many cases are not allowed to gain life experience) to prove this notion false.

The people who commit HBV are usually family members or friends within the same community.

HBA is under-reported because those at risk can feel tied by family or community loyalty or are too distressed to speak out.

Due to the complexity of issues surrounding HBV, it is important for professionals to understand the psychology of the perpetrators. Perpetrators of HBV often use honour as an excuse and try to control a victim in any way possible under the guise of cultural standards. Whole communities make this system work by creating a sense of respect for those who are in control. Failing to control their wives or children may therefore actually confer a feeling of shame on the part of the perpetrator – so the feeling of shame may well be real for the perpetrator.

The perpetrator, to ‘save face’ threatens or commits acts of violence in order to control their wives/children in order to prove to the community that they are worthy of respect. Mothers can be guilty of the same behaviour against their children for the same reasons – they are culturally conditioned to believe they have failed as a mother if their child is disobedient. Many perpetrators have convinced themselves that they are only doing their duty as a good parent or member of the community.

Signs and symptoms

  • Social relationships have narrowed.
  • Suspected perpetrator makes all the rules and the victim has no say in his/her own life.
  • Extreme restrictions on movement and contact with others.
  • Victim shows signs of fear.
  • Victim has been injured.
  • Victim is withdrawn.
  • Victim may excel in school work or employment as symbols of freedom.

Five best practice tips for working with victims of HBA:

  1. Listen to what the individual is saying about their needs.
  2. Don’t use family members, community leaders or friends as interpreters.
  3. Speak to the person alone. They may be influenced by others to say something they don’t mean.
  4. Ensure completion of a thorough risk assessment and remember the ‘one chance’ rule. Many potential victims of forced marriage may only have one chance to speak to a professional before it is too late.
  5. Mediation, reconciliation and family counselling as a response to forced marriage and honour-based violence can be extremely dangerous.

Help and advice

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

For concerns regarding female genital mutilation please refer to the HSCP Female Genital Mutilation Toolkit for additional information including risk assessments and the mandatory reporting duty.

Further guidance can be found on the Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton (HIPS) Safeguarding Children Procedures on female genital mutilation and forced marriage and honour-based violence.


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 provided by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust 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.


What is Prevent?

Prevent is the name given to a national strategy which aims to stop people from becoming violent extremists or supporting terrorism. Channel is the process that supports people at risk of being drawn towards terrorism or violent extremism.

Prevent aims to deal with all forms of extremism including Far Right racist extremism, animal rights extremism and religious extremism.

Signs of possible radicalisation in children and young people

  • Notable changes in behaviour/mood.
  • May begin to express extreme political or radical views.
  • Appear increasingly sympathetic to terrorist acts.
  • Appearance may change.
  • Friends may change.
  • May spend excess time on their own or on the internet.

Help and advice

If you are concerned that a child you know is at risk or subject to radicalisation and extremism, see the Report a Concern page on what to do.

By raising your concerns and making a referral you can help someone who you believe is at risk of radicalisation get support, and can prevent them becoming involved in potentially violent activities, long before any criminal activity occurs.  In an emergency call the police on 999.

Hampshire Prevent Partnership Board

The PREVENT Partnership Board is made up of a wide range of organisations across Hampshire whose remit is to oversee, coordinate and monitor PREVENT work at the local level. See their website for training, professional resources and reporting concerns.