Safeguarding information

What to do if you have concerns over the safety of a child or vulnerable adult.

Revised Safeguarding Children arrangements

The Wood Review of Safeguarding Children was commissioned by the Prime Minister in December 2015, as it was deemed that Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards (LSCB) were not working effectively across England. Confidence has fallen in the effectiveness of these boards and the limitations of LSCBs have been repeatedly highlighted during Ofsted inspections.

The recommendations of the Wood Review include:

  • the duty to collaborate between Clinical Commissioning Groups (nationally, Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) were legally established on 1 July 2022, and CCGs were abolished), local authorities and the Police Service must be strengthened.
  • the local authority is no longer the lead agency, but the three statutory agencies become equal partners in the safeguarding of children.
  • each agency must identify a Chief Officer with the leadership responsibility for collaboration and partnership in the implementation and ownership of the new arrangements.
  • all areas must move towards the implementation of the new arrangements within a prescribed period of time.
  • local authorities, Police Service and Health are expected to publish plans for the introduction of revised processes for safeguarding children on 29 June 2019. These plans are expected to be in place by 29 September 2019.

Reporting a concern

Safeguarding arrangements for both adults and children are coordinated by boards made up of the three Core Partners (CCG, police and local authorities). These boards act to protect children and vulnerable adults and provide learning from significant safeguarding cases.

Find out more about your local safeguarding board, including how to report concerns:

If you have an immediate concern

If you have immediate concerns that an adult with care and support needs or a child is being abused or neglected, call the Police on 999. If it isn’t an emergency but you need help fast, call the Police on 101.

Safeguarding children

Children and young people have the right to be protected from harm – this is a UK legal requirement within the Children Act 2004 and is explicit in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which has been in force in the UK since 1992. The Children and Social Work Act (2017) and Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018) underpin all Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire safeguarding activities.

Children are vulnerable to four main types of abuse – physical, emotional, sexual and neglect.

We all have a responsibility to keep children and young people safe and to work in ways that protect them. By working together, we can help protect children at risk and find the ways to prevent child abuse.

Worried about a child? Call the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 or email

Child death reviews

A review is conducted when a child dies in our area. Lessons from these reviews are considered in our future service commissioning and public health work in order to improve outcomes for children and their families.

There is a statutory requirement for ICBs to have a robust Child Death Overview Process (CDOP). Arrangements in our area have been in place since 2008, and they have involved four local authorities (Bristol, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset, and Bath and North East Somerset), two ICBs (ourselves, and Bath and North East Somerset) and Avon and Somerset police. This arrangement is called West of England (WOE).

The aim of these new CDOP arrangements is to have a consistent local and national response to supporting families and have combined learning from any thematic cases across England.

We have worked in partnership to develop these new arrangements for the West of England CDOP.

Read about statutory guidance on child death reviews

Safeguarding adults

Everyone has a responsibility to report abuse or suspected abuse for adults at risk and to adopt and implement the legislation set out in the Care Act (2014).

An adult at risk is a person aged 18 years or over “who has needs for care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting those needs) and is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect and as a result of those care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of abuse or neglect.” (Care Act 2014).

Abuse may be one or a combination of different types of abuse e.g. physical, verbal, psychological, neglect, self-neglect etc.

West of England Child Death Overview Panel Arrangements

Mate crime

There is no statutory definition of mate crime in UK law. The term is generally understood to refer to the befriending of people, who are perceived by perpetrators to be vulnerable, for the purposes of taking advantage of, exploiting and/or abusing them. This can strongly be associated, but not exclusively associated, with people with a learning disability, learning difficulties or mental health conditions.

Mate crime involves additional and complex issues to understand which sometimes resonate with cases of domestic abuse. The perpetrator is likely to be perceived as a close friend, a carer or a family member and will use this relationship for exploitation.

If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be the victim of Mate Crime, contact the police on 101.

You can read more about Mate Crime on the Bristol Safeguarding website.

Child Sexual Exploitation

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a specific type of sexual abuse, in which children and young people receive gifts, money or affection for performing or submitting to sexual activities. Such exploitative relationships trick young people into believing that they are genuinely loved and it can be difficult for them to acknowledge that the relationship is damaging.

The exploitation may include being given drugs, cigarettes or alcohol and children may also be groomed or forced to post sexually explicit images of themselves online. Sexual exploitation can also be used as a controlling factor for young people in gangs.

Worried about a child? Call the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 or email

Visit the Brook website to read about spotting the signs of CSE and download the proforma.

Visit South Gloucestershire Council’s website for information about the SERAF Risk assessment framework.

Sexual violence

Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support (SARSAS) provide support to people in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, who have experienced rape or any kind of sexual assault or abuse at any time in their lives.

Modern slavery

Modern slavery covers a wide range of abuse and exploitation which includes:

  • sexual exploitation
  • domestic servitude
  • labour exploitation
  • criminal exploitation
  • slavery
  • forced labour
  • organ trafficking

Victims of modern slavery can be any age, gender, nationality or ethnicity. Signs that somebody could be a victim of modern slavery include:

  • behaviour – withdrawn, scared, not willing to talk, doesn’t speak English
  • appearance – unkempt, malnourished, few possessions, health concerns
  • work – inappropriate clothing for job, long hours, little or no pay
  • fear of authorities – doesn’t want to speak to police or other authorities
  • debt bondage – in debt to, or dependent on someone else
  • accommodation – overcrowded, poorly maintained, blacked-out windows
  • lack of control – no ID, no access to bank account, work transport provided
  • lack of freedom – unable to move freely, unwilling or scared to leave

If you think someone may be a victim of modern slavery, call the 24-hour modern slavery helpline.

You can contact the Modern Slavery helpline on 08000 121 700.

Domestic abuse

If you feel scared of your partner, it is likely that you are experiencing domestic violence and abuse. 1 in 4 women will experience it in their lives and men can be victims too. Domestic violence and abuse is the misuse of emotional, physical, financial or sexual control by one person over another. The abuser may be a family member or someone you are in or have been in a relationship with. Anyone can be a victim of abuse regardless of age, race, income, religion, belief, sex, disability, culture or sexual orientation.

Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain. It may involve depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour. Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

Support is available for victims and survivors of domestic abuse and their children:

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

FGM, also known as female circumcision or cutting, involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. Although commonplace in some countries, it has been illegal in the UK since 1985 and in 2003 it also became a criminal offence for UK nationals or permanent residents to take their child abroad for female genital mutilation – the maximum penalty, if found guilty, is 14 years in prison. FGM is child abuse.

Regulated health and social care professionals and teachers in England and Wales must report ‘known’ cases of FGM in under 18s to the police (Home Office, 2016).

If you think that a child may be at risk of female genital mutilation or if you suspect that FGM has already happened, even if it’s not recently, you must seek help and advice. Call the FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550 or email

The Department of Health has more information safeguarding women and girls at risk of FGM, including a risk assessment template and guidance for health professionals.


Prevent is about safeguarding people and communities from the threat of terrorism. It brings together people from all agencies and members of the community to offer support to an individual or family who is at risk of radicalisation.

The CCG has a responsibility under the PREVENT agenda to help stop the radicalisation of vulnerable people that use our services as part of the Government’s counter-terrorism policy.

If you have concerns regarding someone who is at risk of being radicalised please call the non-urgent police number 101 or for immediate concerns for the safety of the public due to a potential terrorist act then please call 999.

Safeguarding training resources

The Bristol Safeguarding Children Board has published a foundation level training package that is suitable for use when delivering safeguarding training.

Included in the package are:

  • a slideshow presentation
  • a training plan
  • delivery notes for trainers
  • safeguarding scenarios with trainer notes
  • practitioner booklet

The training must be adapted to include organisation specific information about policies and practice.


Safeguarding annual reports

The below reports set out how the ICB Safeguarding Team has satisied its statutory responsibility to safeguard the welfare of children and adults through collaborative working across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

Safeguarding Annual Report 2022-2023