If you are worried about the safety of a child in Gateshead then you should talk to someone immediately. You can contact Children's Social Care on (0191) 433 2653 during office hours or (0191) 477 0844 during evenings, weekends or bank holidays.
In an emergency you should contact the police on 999. For non-emergencies you can contact Northumbria Police on 101.
You can also contact the NSPCC by text message on 88858 to report concerns - this service is free and anonymous and the NSPCC aim to respond within three hours.
If you are a young person with concerns about your own safety (or one of your friends) and you do not want to speak to the police or a social worker you can call Childline on 0800 111 - this number is free and available 24 hours a day for advice or support
This page contains information about child protection enquiries and child protection conferences and how it may affect you as a parent, carer or young person involved. If you have concerns about a child in Gateshead please click here for information about who to talk to.
The law says that those working with families must try to help children and their families stay together whenever possible. However, the law also says that children must be kept safe. Gateshead LSCB partner agencies work closely together to protect the children of Gateshead.
We realise that you will probably have a lot of questions if your family are involved in a child protection investigation. This website contains detailed information about how these investigations take place. We have also produced leaflets for parents and carers which explain how the process takes place. Your social worker should provide you with a copy of this leaflet, but if you want to read this online, you can download the leaflet here (pdf, 107Kb). We've also produced an information leaflet for children and young people. Again, your social worker should have shared this with you and your child, but you can read the leaflet online (pdf, 114Kb).
Gateshead Council's Children's Social Care has a legal duty to look into incidents where they are told about a concern for a child. A child protection investigation has to be started if someone believes you child may be being harmed or is at risk of being harmed. This investigation will always be carried out by at least one qualified social worker. Sometimes a police officer will be involved as well if the concern is that your child has been abused or a crime has occurred.
The social worker will talk to all professionals who know your child and family. This may include teachers, health visitors, doctors or any other professional involved with your family. The social worker will also talk to you about what you believe to have happened and why there are concerns about your child. You will be asked your views about what has happened and what has been said. During the enquiry you may be asked the same question by several different people and at different times. This is to try to get a clear picture about what might have happened and it does not necessarily mean that people do not believe what you have told them.
If your child is old enough the social worker will want to talk to them and any other children living in the home to hear their views and feelings about what has happened. If a crime is thought to have been committed the police may want to record the interview using a video.
It is important for you to know that Children's Social Care will always try to undertake enquiries with your cooperation and consent, however if this isn't possible they may need to apply to Court to enable them to do so.
In some cases an Initial Child Protection Conference may be held. This brings together all of the people who are concerned about the child or children and allows them to share information. Your social worker will explain everything about this, including what happens in the meeting and who you can take to the meeting and there is some information on our Child Protection Conferences page.
If you need any more information on child protection conferences please contact the Safeguarding Children Unit on 0191 433 8031 and ask to speak to one of the Independent Reviewing Officers. For information on Gateshead LSCB partner agencies please click on the links below (their names) to access their websites:
Gateshead Council | Northumbria Police | Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust | Gateshead Primary Care Trust | CAFCASS | Northumbria Probation Trust | Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust | Tyne & Wear Fire and Rescue Service | Gateshead College | UK Border Agency | North East Ambulance Service
Very occasionally the risk of a child is too great and it may be necessary to find somewhere else for the child to stay - if possible then this will be with another family member. Alternatively, the person who has or might hurt the child could be asked to leave the family home. Children's Social Care would normally want to do this with your agreement, but there may be times where they would need to apply to the Court for a legal order which would allow them to remove the child to live in a safe place such as with a foster carer or in a residential home. If this is likely then you would be advised to contact a solicitor.