Safeguarding is about protecting children and adults at risk from ill-treatment and harm.

We are committed to ensuring that all children and adults at risk are protected and kept safe from harm whilst they are engaged in services commissioned, organised or provided directly by the council.

We safeguard, promote wellbeing and protect children and adults at risk in several ways:

  • Raising awareness of signs and reporting mechanisms with employees, elected members and volunteers and providing training appropriate to their needs.
  • Passing on any safeguarding concerns we have to appropriate agencies.
  • Ensuring the council follows safer recruitment procedures.
  • Working effectively with other agencies to safeguard children and adults at risk.

It is not the role of the council to decide whether a child or adults at risk has been abused or not. This is the responsibility of Staffordshire Safeguarding Children Board and Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Adult Safeguarding Partnership Boards. It is however, everybody’s responsibility to ensure that concerns are shared and appropriate action taken.

View our policy and procedure:

View the annual reports for:

Protecting children and adults from abuse 

Abuse, including neglect, are forms of ill treatment. Somebody may abuse a child or adult by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm.

Abuse can take many forms. The most common types of abuse are physical, emotional, sexual and neglect. Other forms of abuse include self neglect (for adults), financial, discriminatory abuse and organisational abuse.

Domestic violence, child sexual exploitation, forced marriage, hate crime, female genital mutilation, modern slavery and bullying are other forms of abuse. Safeguarding children and adults at risk from being drawn into violent extremism and/or terrorism is also a safeguarding issue. More information about all types of abuse is in our safeguarding policy and procedure.

Recognise it and report it  

If you think someone is being abused or you think their safety is at risk, then it is important to tell someone.

Where a crime has been committed or if you're worried about someone's immediate safety, contact the police by dialling 999.

Can I remain anonymous?

You will be asked about your own details but as a member of the public, you can choose to remain anonymous.

What will happen after I've reported my concerns?

What happens next depends on the seriousness of the situation.

In response to a call, trained staff will carry out a careful and sensitive enquiry in line with locally agreed procedures.

The information provided will be discussed with other agencies including the police. Where you have reported a concern about a child or young person, the information will also become part of the child's electronic record.

Meetings may be held to agree what will happen next. Information and advice will be offered so that choices can be made and help given.

Other sources of advice

Staffordshire Police Central Referrals Unit 101 - Ask for MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub) or
Crimestoppers 0800 555 111
NSPCC Helpline 0808 800 5000
Action on Elder Abuse 0808 808 8141
Care Quality Commission (CQC) 03000 616 161


The welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults is the primary concern. All children, young people and vulnerable adults have the right to protection from abuse or exploitation.
 It is the responsibility of child protection agencies to determine whether or not a child has been abused. It is our responsibility to report any concerns we have to the appropriate authority.

For allegations involving children and young people  

Phone: 0800 131 3126 (free from a landline)
Fax: 01785 854223
Text: 07773 792016
Online: Visit Staffordshire County Council's website
Minicom: 01785 277309
Post: First Response Team, Wedgwood Building, Tipping Street Stafford, ST16 2DH 

A trained member of staff will be available to help you between 8.30am - 5.00pm, Monday - Thursday and 8.30am - 4.30pm Fridays (excluding Bank Holidays).

If you have a concern about the safety of a child or vulnerable adult and need to report it overnight, over a weekend or on a Bank Holiday, contact the Emergency Duty Service:

Phone: 0345 604 2886
Fax: 01785 277321
Text: 07773 792016

For allegations involving vulnerable adults  

Phone: 0345 604 2719
Fax: 01785 276026

A trained member of staff will be available to help you between 8.30am - 5.00pm, Monday - Thursday (excluding Bank Holidays) and 8.30am - 4.30pm on Friday.

If you have a concern about the safety of a child or vulnerable adult and need to report it overnight, over a weekend or on a Bank Holiday, contact the Emergency Duty Service:

Phone: 0345 604 2886
Fax: 01785 277321
Text: 07773 792016

Child sexual exploitation  

The NSPCC describe child sexual exploitation as a type of sexual abuse in which children are sexually exploited for money, power or status.

Children or young people may be tricked into believing they're in a loving, consensual relationship. They might be invited to parties and given drugs and alcohol. They may also be groomed online.

Child sexual exploitation has a devastating impact on children, young people and their families. It is largely a hidden crime, and raising awareness of this type of abuse is essential to preventing it and stopping it early when it does happen.

Councils play a crucial role in safeguarding children, including tackling child sexual exploitation. However they cannot do this alone. They need the co-operation of the wider community and partner agencies.

What is the council doing?

We are working to raise awareness so that our staff, partner agencies and the wider community can recognise the signs of child sexual exploitation and know what to do if they have concerns.

We are also working with the police to offer guidance and training for our night time economy staff, including taxi drivers and accommodation providers.

Key risk factors and warning signs

Child sexual exploitation is not limited to any particular geographic, ethnic or social background. There is no set formula for identifying child sexual exploitation, but the following have been identified as factors that may make children and young people more vulnerable to abuse:

  • Living in a chaotic or dysfunctional household (including parental substance use, domestic violence, parental mental health issues, parental criminality).
  • History of abuse.
  • Recent bereavement or loss.
  • Gang association.
  • Attending school with children and young people who are already sexually exploited.
  • Learning disabilities.
  • Unsure about their sexual orientation or unable to disclose their sexual orientation to their families.
  • Friends with young people who are sexually exploited.
  • Homeless.
  • Lacking friends from the same age group.
  • Living in a gang neighbourhood.
  • Living in residential care.
  • Living in hostel, bed and breakfast accommodation or a foyer.
  • Low self-esteem or self-confidence.
  • Young carer.

A child who is already being sexually exploited may show the following signs and behaviours:

  • Missing from home or care.
  • Physical injuries.
  • Drug or alcohol misuse.
  • Involvement in offending.
  • Repeat sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy and terminations.
  • Absent from school.
  • Change in physical appearance.
  • Evidence of sexual bullying (can be through the internet and/or social networking).
  • Estranged from their family.
  • Receiving gifts from unknown sources.
  • Recruiting others into exploitative situations.
  • Poor mental health.
  • Self-harming.
  • Thoughts of or attempts at suicide.

Some facts about child sexual exploitation:

  • All children from all kinds of families can be sexually exploited.
  • The majority of sexually exploited children and young people will be hidden from view and it is difficult to quantify the number of children and young people who are abused in this way.
  • The average age for exploitation is getting younger from 15 to 13 years of age. Barnardo’s has worked with children as young as 10.
  • A child under the age of 13 is not legally capable of consenting to sexual activity.
  • Sexually exploited children over the age of 16 can consent to sex but they cannot consent to exploitation, all children under 18 should be safeguarded.
  • Child sexual exploitation does not just take place in large towns and cities. It can happen anywhere.
  • Public areas such as parks and leisure centres are often used by perpetrators to targets victims.
  • Children from families where there may be problems can be targeted by perpetrators who identify a child’s vulnerabilities and exploit them.
  • The majority of victims are not ‘looked after’ children. It is estimated that only 20-25% of victims are ‘looked after’.
  • Because of the grooming methods used by their abusers, it is very common for children and young people who are sexually exploited not to recognise that they are being abused.
  • The age profiles for child sexual exploitation offenders are often within the 18-24 age group, although they are sometimes within the victim’s age group.
  • Girls and women can be both the groomers and the offenders.
  • Offenders come from all racial groups.
  • Individuals offend as well as groups.
  • Boys are often victims of sexual exploitation but they may find it harder to disclose that they are being abused by other men because of issues about sexual identity.
  • Boys and young men who are sexually exploited are more than twice as likely to have a recorded disability such as a learning disability, behaviourally based disability or an autism spectrum disorder than girls.
  • Children and young people can be trafficked from one street to another and within regions.
  • Child sexual exploitation has a devastating long term impact for the victim and on the whole family.

How to report a concern

If you are worried that a child or young person (under 18) may be at risk of child sexual exploitation call First Response (Staffordshire County Council) on 0800 131 3126.

Alternatively call Staffordshire Police Central Referrals Unit on 101 and ask for the MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub) or email

If you believe a child or young person is in immediate danger or in need of medical attention ring 999.

Useful information