A government-backed helpline designed to allow employees within organisations blow the whistle and raise concerns over what they may deem as child protection failures is to be launched in the UK. Run by the NSPCC on behalf of the Home Office, that has provided £500,000 of funding, the service will advise callers on the steps they can take to prevent and report abuse and help protect them from reprisals by employers.
The helpline number is 0800 0280285 and will primarily operate from 9am-9pm Monday to Friday. There will also be an email service and those who call at the weekend or outside the operating hours will be able to leave their details so they should they wish to be contacted later.
The service is primarily targeted at staff in various organisations who may be reticent in raising concerns about the way their organisation is dealing with child abuse cases or other specific risks to children, or those who feel that their employer is not taking their concerns seriously. The launch of the helpline follows high-profile scandals including the abuse enquiry in Rotherham where it was uncovered that at least 1,400 children were sexually abused by older men from the city's Asian community who mainly groomed young girls.
NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless, said: "If an employee thinks a child is in danger or has been failed by their organisation then nothing should stand in the way of them speaking out. Too often people with concerns have kept silent because they have been fearful of the consequences for their jobs, and this can have devastating consequences for the children involved.
"A feature of the child abuse scandals of recent years has been people who said they thought something wasn't right but were unsure whether they could discuss their concerns confidentially outside their organisation."
John Cameron, the NSPCC head of helplines, added: "Where we have concerns and we have identified that is actually something that needs to be taken forward because it's a serious failure that information gets passed through to the relevant services."