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Reporting a concern – process for professionals

If you suspect that a child or young person is being, or is at risk of being, significantly harmed as a result of abuse or neglect, you must report this immediately.

Professionals working with children and families (either in a paid or voluntary position) should:

  • Discuss your concerns in the first instance with your Safeguarding Lead or line manager if you are unsure if they are suffering significant harm
  • Inform the parents and / or gain their consent for you to make this contact unless doing so would put the child at risk
  • Gather initial information using the Inter-Agency Contact Form
  • During office hours (9.00am – 5.00pm) call Portsmouth Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 0845 671 0271 or 023 9268 8793
  • Out of office hours (evenings, weekends and bank holidays) call the Duty Team on 0300 555 1373

If you believe a child is in immediate danger and at risk of harm call the police on 999

For help completing the Inter-Agency Contact Form (IACF) please see the guidance.

If the child or young person is not at risk of being significantly harmed practitioners should consider an Early Help response

Practitioners who make a referral should always follow up their concerns if they are not satisfied with the response, please refer to Resolving Professional Differences – Re-think and Escalation

You should seek, in general, to discuss concerns with the family and, where possible seek the family’s agreement to making a referral unless this may, either by delay or the behavioural response it prompts or for any other reason, place the child at increased risk of significant harm.

A decision by any professional not to seek parental permission before making a referral to MASH must be approved by their manager, recorded and the reasons given

Where a parent has agreed to a referral, this must be recorded and confirmed on the relevant referral form

Where the parent is consulted and refuses to give permission for the referral, further advice and approval should be sought from a manager or the Designated Senior Person or Named Professional, unless to do so would cause undue delay. The outcome of the consultation and any further advice should be fully recorded

All recording with regards to consent to share information should be included in the inter-agency contact form and kept on individual organisation’s record systems.

If you have a concern about a member of staff working with children (in either a paid or voluntary capacity) please contact the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) on 023 9288 2500 or email

The Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO), is a role set out in the government guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children (2023).

The LADO is responsible for overseeing the investigation of allegations made against volunteers or members of staff in ‘positions of trust’ and who work with children (up to 18 years).

Managing allegations

In line with Working Together to Safeguard Children (2023), the managing allegations process will be followed if a volunteer or member of staff is alleged to have:

  1. Behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child;
  2. Possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child; or
  3. Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates he or she would pose a risk of harm to children.
  4. Behaved or may have behaved in a way that indicates they may not be suitable to work with children.

These four criteria relate to a person’s behaviour in the workplace, the community and in their home and social life.

If these criteria are met, LADO will provide advice and guidance to employers and voluntary organisations to ensure investigations are full, timely and fair. LADO will also liaise with the Police and Social Care where necessary and refer on to regulatory bodies as needed.

If you have concerns regarding someone who is in a ‘position of trust’ and works with a child, including foster carers and volunteers, these should be reported to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO). It is a statutory requirement to do this within 1 working day.

Portsmouth’s LADO can be contacted by:

If you are unsure if any of the above criteria have been met, please call LADO for a consultation.

When receiving an allegation it is important you:

  • Treat it seriously and keep an open mind
  • Do not investigate
  • Do not make assumptions or offer alternative explanations
  • Do not promise confidentiality
  • Record the details using the child/adult’s own words
  • Note time/date/place of incident(s), persons present and what was said
  • Sign and date the written record
  • Do not inform the subject if this might place the child at risk of further harm or jeopardise any future investigation

Further information about LADO can be found in the one minute guide

LADO training is also available to book through the PSCP website

If your concerns is about a vulnerable adults, please refer to the guidance on the Safeguarding Adults Board website on how to report your concerns.