We take the welfare of our customers very seriously and are very involved in working in partnership with local services to help safeguard vulnerable adults and children from abuse.
You yourself may become aware that a vulnerable neighbour is being exploited or abused by an individual or a group, or you may witness a child being abused or neglected. There are ways in which you can report concerns and potentially make a difference to somebody’s life.
What to do if you're worried about a child
What is child abuse?
Child abuse is sometimes hard to define but can be categorised as Physical, Sexual, Emotional and Neglect. We are also seeing a significant rise in children impacted by the effects of Domestic Abuse.
A child is aged 0 – 18
Harm to a child means ill treatment or damage to their health or development. Below are some examples of behaviours which would cause harm and where a child could need protection.
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child's basic physical needs or psychological needs, or both. Neglect can happen during pregnancy because of the mother’s substance abuse, or if a partner or has been violent to a mother during pregnancy. Once a child is born, neglect may happen if a parent:
- Fails to provide adequate food, clothing and shelter. This would include throwing a young person out of the family home
- Fails to protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger
- Doesn’t adequately supervise a child. This would include making unsuitable childcare-arrangements
- Doesn't allow the child access to appropriate medical interventions or treatment.
It may also include neglect of a child's basic emotional needs.
The neglect could be intentional or unintentional, and, if assessing a child for neglect, attention should be paid to both parents, not just the mother.
This could be threat of injury, or an actual physical injury, such as hitting or shaking a child.
This is treatment which causes serious damage to a child's emotional health and development.
- constant or unjust punishment
- withholding affection
- telling a child that they are worthless, putting them down or deliberately scaring them.
- not giving a child opportunities to express their views
- preventing a child from taking part in normal social interaction
- letting a child see or hear the mistreatment of someone else, for example, in a domestic violence situation
- bullying, including cyber bullying, causing the child to feel frightened or in danger
All forms of abuse involve some emotional ill-treatment. The abuse could be intentional or unintentional.
This is where a child is made to take part in sexual activities, whether or not they know what’s happening and whether or not there is a threat of violence. It may involve:
- physical contact, for example, inappropriate touching or sexual assault
- non-contact activities, such as showing children pornographic images or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet)
- using young people in prostitution. All young people under 18 used in prostitution are victims of child sexual abuse
- female genital mutilation.
If a child sees or hears domestic violence or abuse between their parents, this could, in itself, amount to child abuse. If you’re an adult victim of domestic abuse, and you aren’t willing to take action to protect yourself, this could lead the local authority having concerns about the harm this could cause your children. If the local authority is already investigating possible concerns about abuse of your child, it’s very important for you to tell them about the domestic abuse. This is so you can get the protection that both you and your child need.
The effects of child abuse
As well as the short-term impact of abuse, child abuse can lead to long-term and serious damage to a child. For example, it can lead to long-standing physical and mental health difficulties such as depression, eating disorders, substance misuse and self-harm. Children who have been abused may find it hard to trust other people – this could make it difficult for them to form healthy relationships in the future. For all these reasons, it’s very important to take steps to protect children from abuse where we can.
If you're worried about a child, even if you're unsure, you can speak to the NSPCC about your concerns, you do not have to give your details if you wish to remain anonymous. Whether you want to report child abuse and neglect or aren't sure what to do, they will listen, offer advice and support and can take the next steps if a child's in danger.
NSPCC telephone lines are open Monday to Friday 8am – 10pm and 9am – 6pm at the weekend. You can also contact them online 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
If a child is in immediate danger, call the police on 999 straight away.
Alternatively, you can contact the local authority Childrens Services:
Cheshire West and Chester:
Telephone: 0300 123 7047 option 1 - 8.30am to 5pm from Monday to Thursday & 8.30am – 4.30pm on Friday.
Emergency Duty Team (out of hours) on 01244 977277
Phone 0300 123 5012 (8.30am till 5pm, option 3) or Out of Hours 0300 123 5022
Young People that need help or advice.
If you feel you are being mistreated or something is upsetting you, you can call any of the numbers above to ask for help, alternatively, you can call Childline free on 0800 1111 or find out how to get in touch online. Whatever your worry, they will listen to you and try to help.
What to do if you are worried about a vulnerable adult or you are an adult at risk.
Abuse of a vulnerable adult can take many forms and there are a variety of behaviours which could give rise to a safeguarding concern:
- Physical abuse - assault, hitting, slapping, pushing, misuse of medication, restraint or inappropriate physical sanctions
- Domestic abuse - psychological, sexual, financial, emotional abuse; ‘honor’ based violence and Female Genital Mutilation; forced marriage
- Sexual abuse - rape, indecent exposure, sexual harassment, inappropriate looking or touching, sexual teasing or innuendo, sexual photography, non-consenting adult
- Psychological abuse - emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, cyber bullying
- Financial or material abuse - theft, fraud, internet scamming, coercion, misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or Benefits
- Modern Slavery - slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude, Discriminatory abuse – harassment or slurs because of race,gender and gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion
- Neglect and acts of omission - ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs; failure to provide access to appropriate health, care and support and the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating
- Self-neglect - behaviour neglecting to care for one’s personal hygiene, health or surroundings, such as hoarding
- Organisational abuse - neglect and poor care within an institution or care setting
Abuse can happen in the home, the community, within institutions such as care homes and be carried out by any person or persons. This might be family, friends, neighbours, paid staff, volunteers, carers, other service users or even complete strangers.
Who does it affect?
Adults may be considered vulnerable due to their care or support needs, for example:
- Frail due to age, ill health, physical disability, cognitive impairment or a combination of these
- Have a learning disability
- Have mental health needs including dementia or a personality disorder
- Have a long-term illness/condition
- Users of substances or alcohol
- Unable to demonstrate the capacity to make a decision and is in need of care and support.
If you are concerned for a vulnerable adult contact the relevant local authority below, in an emergency, call 999
Cheshire West and Chester:
- Community Access Team: 0300 123 7034
- Emergency Duty Team (out of office hours): 01244 977277
- Police: 999 / 101 (non-emergency)
- Adults Social Care: 0300 123 5010 (8.30am – 5pm)
- Out of Hours Team on 0300 123 5022
If an adult is in immediate danger, call the police on 999 straight away.