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Child protection

I am concerned about a child’s wellbeing

If you are worried that a child is experiencing, or is at risk from, any harm, report it. To report a concern, you should contact:

  • 01294 310300 (Monday to Thursday, 9am to 4.45pm and Friday, 9am to 4.30pm)
  • 0800 328 7758 (outwith the above hours or Public Holidays)
  • if the child is in immediate danger, dial 999 and ask for Police. For non-emergencies, call Police Scotland on 101

We know that people worry about whether to share their concerns. They worry about being wrong, that it is not their business, and worry they will make things worse. But what if they are right? Remember that families can't get the help they need unless someone shares their concerns. 

It does help if you provide contact details as we may need to ask for more information. But you can make an anonymous report. The family of the child will not be given your details unless you agree. 

Signs that might indicate abuse

Abuse of children can be physical, emotional, and sexual or the absence of something such as food. Children who experience abuse may display behaviour which causes concerns. This could be someone showing signs of distress or physical abuse such as bruising in unusual places. A child may tell you information about themselves, or others, that causes you concern.

Sometimes it might be an adult's behaviour which makes you worry about a child. You might:

  • notice an adult caring for a child when they have been using drugs and/or alcohol
  • have concerns about the way an adult behaves towards a child. For example, swearing and frightening the child
  • be aware of violence in households where children live

Definition of risk

Risk means the probability of something that could have a negative impact on a child's wellbeing. This could be any person or issue which may pose a threat to the healthy development of the child or young person. This may be by adults doing, or not doing, something which could result in harm to the child. It could also be about what the child's behaviour is doing to themselves or others.

Protecting children

Everyone has a responsibility to protect children from harm. In some cases, this will mean a range of agencies working with the child and their families. For example, schools, Police and social services. This is to help keep the child safe.

Report concerns as a practitioner

Practitioners in all services across North Ayrshire should follow their child protection procedures. If you have any concerns at all, you must share your observations with your line manager and put your concerns in writing immediately. Don't delay if the person you normally report to isn't available. The quicker you share information and get help, the less likelihood there is of things worsening.

After reporting your concerns

We record all worries shared about children. We check the information with other services involved with the family. All information is treated seriously. We will take action that best meets the needs of the child. We try hard to work alongside the parents and the wider family so that families can stay together.

Action we might take includes:

  • urgent action to make sure a child is safe. This could mean a child staying with other family members or a foster carer temporarily
  • undertaking a formal child protection assessment. Either on a single agency basis, or with Police Scotland
  • providing help to a family under stress (such as childcare)
  • referring a family to another agency
  • recording the concern but taking no further action

In some cases, we look at taking legal measures. For example, a Child Assesment Order or a referral to the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration.

Child Protection Planning Meeting

If there are concerns that a child is at risk of significant harm, we may call an initial Child Protection Planning Meeting. This brings together practitioners who have had contact with the child and their family such as:

  • GPs
  • social workers
  • teachers or nursery staff
  • youth workers
  • Police
  • midwives or health visitors

Parents and their support network play an important role in these meetings. The children and young people may be invited when appropriate, but their views are always represented in meetings.  

The Child Protection Register

If a child is at risk of significant harm, the Child Protection Planning Meeting may decide to place the name on the Child Protection Register. This indicates to agencies how worried everyone involved is in relation to the care and wellbeing of a child. A plan will be put in place to help reduce the risks to the child. This will be monitored regularly by the Core Group which take place every four weeks. A review child protection planning meeting will be held every six months. This is to talk about:

  • how the plan is working
  • what is working well
  • what everyone is worried about
  • if things are getting better and safer for the child

Once the risk has reduced sufficiently, the child's name will be removed from the register.

Children can be placed on the Child Protection Register before they are born. This is known as a pre-birth registration.

Child Protection Orders

If it is believed that a child may be in immediate danger or at risk of significant harm, the Health and Social Care Partnership, or another organisation, may apply to the sheriff for a Child Protection Order.

If successful, the sheriff can order:

  • that the child is removed from their home to a safe place, or
  • prevent the removal of a child, for example from a hospital or from their grandparent's home

The sheriff can attach conditions to the order to ensure the protection of the child. For example, a condition that they have no contact with a particular named person or that the child must have a medical examination. When a Child Protection Order is in place, it is then heard by the Children's Hearing to consider further legal measures needed to protect the child.

Exclusion Order

In situations where it is perceived that an identified adult may post significant risk to a child, an application can be made for an Exclusion Order. This requires the person suspected of harming the child to be removed from the family home.

The North Ayrshire Child Protection Committee 

North Ayrshire Child Protection Committee's role is to ensure that all agencies work together to protect children from harm and keep them safe.

The North Ayrshire Child Protection Committee website contains information, advice and guidance. For the latest news and updates, follow North Ayrshire Child Protection Committee on X/Twitter @NA_CPC and on Facebook.

Read the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland.