Investigating allegations of neglect or abuse

If you contact us because you suspect that a child or young person is being, or is at risk of being, neglected, harmed or abused, we’ll investigate your claims.

You should contact us if you believe that a child or young person is being:

  • physically injured (hit, kicked, punched)
  • neglected (not properly clothed or fed)
  • sexually abused (sexually assaulted or subjected to inappropriate sexual language or behaviour)
  • emotionally abused (constantly criticised, ignored, humiliated, bullied or affected by domestic abuse).

When you report your concerns, we’ll consider undertaking a child protection investigation.

Child protection investigations

When we carry out a child protection investigation, we try to find out as much information as we can about the concerns that you’ve raised. 

A social worker, a police officer, or possibly both, will talk to the child concerned, their parents or carers, and others involved with the family, such as the child’s teachers, and the family doctor and health visitor, to help us piece together the full picture.

If there’s evidence to suggest that the child is in immediate danger, or the investigation reveals serious concerns about the child’s welfare, children’s social care, the police, and other professionals who know the child, will meet to decide what action to take.

They may decide that one of our social workers or the police need to interview the child to clarify exactly what happened to them. The interview takes place in a safe and friendly environment and the officers who conduct the interview are specially trained to deal with children in these situations.

Outcomes of the investigation

Most people are scared that we’ll take their children away from them as a result of our investigation, but in most situations, this isn’t the case. If we do feel that we need to find a safe place for the child away from their immediate family while we make further enquiries, we’ll agree with the parents that the child can stay with extended family.  If this isn’t possible, we’ll arrange to place the child with approved carers. If we can’t come to an agreement with the parents, we may seek to apply to the courts for a court order to protect the child.

In most cases where the investigation identifies that the child is at risk of significant harm, we’ll hold a case conference to agree a plan to protect the child. Parents and all the agencies that have had involvement with the child will be invited to attend. Children themselves may attend the meeting and will be supported to do so if it’s appropriate.

In most cases, children remain at home with their parents following a case conference, but in some circumstances, court proceedings may be necessary to make sure children are protected from harm, and this may result in them living with extended family, friends or council approved carers.

Working together to keep children and young people safe

Children and young people in need of protection are usually our most vulnerable children and those at greatest risk of social exclusion. To keep them safe, we have to work effectively with all kinds of agencies and professionals, including those in nurseries, schools, health, college, adult services and the voluntary sector, to provide the right support package.

When we believe a child or young person's at risk of significant harm, it’s essential that we work effectively with some or all of these agencies, and with the child or young person and their family, to find out exactly what the problems are so that we can put the support in place to keep the child or young person safe.

Wherever possible, we try to keep families together.  By giving them help and support early, we can stop problems from escalating and prevent the need for intervention from specialist services.

Barnsley Safeguarding Children Partnership

For more information about keeping children and young people safe, visit the Safeguarding Children Partnership website or contact the Safeguarding Children by emailing


  • Childline: 08001111
  • Samaritans: 08457 909090
  • NSPCC helpline freephone: 0808 800 5000
  • Sexual abuse helpline freephone: 0808 1000 900  
  • Barnsley Domestic Violence Helpline: 01226 249800
  • Women's Aid Helpline: 0808 2000 247

Request for service documents

Related websites