Safeguarding children

Everyone is responsible for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.

If you think a child is being abused or neglected – contact the council’s Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) during office hours by phoning 023 9268 8793  or emailing At other times phone the out of hours service on 0300 555 1373. Leave your name and number and someone will call you back as soon as possible. For more information, read the keeping children safe page.

If you have concerns about someone who works with children such as a nursery worker, childminder or someone who works in a school – contact the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO), Hayley Cowmeadow on 023 9288 2500 or email and also the linked Quality and Sufficiency Officer on 023 9284 1974 or via

Children learn best when they are healthy, safe and secure. The safeguarding and welfare requirements are designed to help providers create high quality settings which are welcoming, safe and stimulating. Providers must take all necessary steps to keep children safe and well as specified in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Safeguarding and Welfare Requirements (pages 16-35).

Useful Links and Documents:

Managing allegations against staff

The LADO role applies to paid, unpaid, volunteers, casual, agency or anyone self-employed and can relate to concerns regarding allegations or offences emanating from outside of work as well as their practice whilst working with children. More information is available on the PCSB website.

The LADO should be alerted to all cases in which it is alleged that a person who works with children has:

  • Behaved in a way that has harmed, or may have harmed a child, or
  • Possibly committed a criminal offence against, or related to a child
  • Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates this person is unsuitable to work with children.
  • Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates this person may pose a risk of harm to children

If an allegation is made against a member of staff in your setting, you must manage the situation in line with clear and robust safeguarding procedures.  It is essential that the LADO is informed and that you do not carry out any investigations or discuss the situation with the member of staff concerned as this could affect the outcome.  A decision needs to be made by the setting manager whether to suspend the staff member (this is to protect both them and all involved – not a suggestion of guilt) or to allow them to continue working – this depends on the level of risk involved.

Safe recruitment

Safe Recruitment procedures are a vital part of your safeguarding practice.  Here is a list of 8 things to remember to ensure you are applying safe practice in your setting.

  1. State in the job advert that you are a Safe Employer and that thorough checks will be carried out as part of your Safe Recruitment Policy. This is known to be a deterrent for potentially unsuitable people, who are more likely to apply for jobs where they think policies are not applied robustly.
  2. Always insist on an application form rather than a CV. This is an opportunity to find out what the person brings to your setting and to the specific role they are applying for. Ask questions about their experience in working with a particular age range, or particular needs, or their understanding of the EYFS and how to observe and assess children.
  3. Challenge gaps in employment – you should ask as many questions to assure yourself that any gaps are fully justified. If in doubt, ask more questions.
  4. Never accept hand-delivered references. Always seek references directly from the named referees – one of which must be the previous employer, or a person in a position of authority from their college etc.
  5. Always verify references and record that you have done so. When you receive a reference, it should be followed up by a telephone call to check the named person provided it. This avoids you potentially receiving fake references. Record when you verified it, who you spoke to and your name as evidence.
  6. Check qualifications are relevant and genuine.  The Early Years Qualifications List provides details on recognised qualifications to help providers identify whether an applicant is suitably qualified. You can also contact the awarding body to verify the authenticity of certificates.
  7. If a referee does not provide a reference within the required time frame (e.g. 1 week after requesting it) follow up with a telephone call to the organisation and speak to the referee. There may be a reason why they have not provided a reference which could give you justifiable concerns over proceeding with the recruitment.
  8. Trust your instinct. If you have any doubt about the suitability of an applicant, trust your instinct. Do not feel obliged to offer somebody a job just because they interviewed well.

If you need any support, contact the team via 023 9268 1974 or email If you become aware of somebody unsuitable to work with children who has applied for a job with you, you should contact the LADO phone on 023 9288 2500 or email

Prevent Duty and female genital mutilation (FGM)

Prevent is part of the national counter-terrorism strategy and aims to stop people being drawn into or supporting terrorism. We all have a duty to report concerns of radicalisation and/or extremism – this should be done via Portsmouth MASH on 0845 671 0271 or e-mail or via Hampshire Constabulary on 101. Always call 999 in an emergency.

FGM is a form of child abuse and is an act of violence against women and girls. It is sometimes also known as female circumcision.

You can find out more on the Portsmouth Safeguarding Children’s Board website.

Free training is available on the Prevent Duty and FGM for frontline staff and managers – visit SAFE Community Interest Company for more information.