What is Safeguarding?
Everyday Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) work alongside the public. Every member of KFRS, including our volunteers, work together with each other and with our partner agencies to help keep our customers safe and to protect them from risk, harm and abuse.
By working together we help to identify key areas where our customers may need support. This can be in a variety of situations where concerns are identified, such as child abuse, adult abuse, modern slavery, self-neglect, hoarding, domestic abuse. We understand the risks our customers face and strive to offer them the most appropriate care and support, not only through KFRS, but through our working relationships with our partner agencies.
Whose responsibility is safeguarding?
Everyone in KFRS has a responsibility for safeguarding children, young people and adults at risk. Along with other organisations, everyone employed by, or volunteering for us has a duty to recognise and report concerns about abuse or neglect. All members of KFRS also have a responsibility to promote the welfare of our customers, whether they have direct or indirect contact with them, or access to information about them.
Kent Fire and Rescue Service’s commitment to safeguarding
In addition to our commitment to protecting and supporting those who are or may be vulnerable, including children, young people and adults at risk, our objective is to ensure people are protected from harm and abuse.
Our role as a fire and rescue service extends not only to rescuing those from physical or life-threatening situations such as fires, road traffic and water incidents, but to responding to and helping to rescue those who may be at risk from harm, including all forms of abuse.
By working in together and in partnership with Kent and Medway Safeguarding Adults Board, Medway Safeguarding Children Partnership and Kent Safeguarding Children Multi-agency Partnership, we endeavour to provide the best possible service for our customers.
We support people by :
- providing free Safe and Well visits, helping to reduce the risk of fire in the home. During these visits we may also identify other vulnerabilities, which may be referred to partner agencies where necessary
- we support the victims of domestic abuse by working with other agencies
- we can provide advice regarding the prevention of arson
- KFRS work and liaise with the police if a crime is suspected, committed, or where information indicates that a crime may be about to be committed
When the safeguarding of children, young people and adults at risk extends beyond the capabilities and/or scope of KFRS, we share information with other agencies, such sharing governed by our legal responsibilities, partnership arrangements and data sharing protocols, in order to assist them in taking action,
Reporting an allegation and how to protect someone or yourself from abuse or neglect
If you think someone is in immediate risk or danger call 999 for the emergency service.
How do we work with partners?
In Kent and Medway, safeguarding children, young people and adults at risk is a multi-agency responsibility. There are up to three tiers in the Kent and Medway council system. Within these tiers, parish and town councils will liaise with their district or unitary authority. District councils will liaise with Kent County Council alongside other partner agencies and bodies, including Kent Fire and Rescue Service, Kent Police and South East Coast Ambulance Service, all of who have responsibility for undertaking safeguarding functions or supporting the agencies that do.
Kent and Medway Safeguarding Boards and Children's Safeguarding Partnerships
Kent Safeguarding Children Multi-Agency Partnership (KSCMP) and Medway Safeguarding Children’s Partnership (MSCP) are statutory multi-agency partnerships which bring together agencies who work to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people.
The objective of the partnerships is to co-ordinate the activity of each person and agency represented for the purposes of safeguarding.
More information is available:
The Kent and Medway Safeguarding Adults Board (KMSAB) is a statutory multi-agency partnership which brings together agencies who work to safeguard adults at risk in Kent and Medway.
More information is available on the KCC website
Useful resources for the public, including how to protect yourself from abuse available in alternative languages, is available on the website of the Kent and Medway Safeguarding Adults Board
Children and young people
Children and young people
Most people who call at your home will be genuine. But sometimes people can try to trick their way into your home to steal your valuables and money. They are known as 'distraction burglars' or 'bogus callers'.
Are you expecting anyone?
Be cautious; people from water, gas and electric companies rarely visit without appointments. If there's a real emergency, police and firefighters are likely to be there. On rare occasions, people may pose as members of the emergency services or armed forces to gain access to someone's home. If you're unsure, follow the tips below.
Top tips to protect yourself
- Lock your back doors and windows before answering the front door – thieves often work in pairs, one distracting you at the front door while the other tries the back.
- Use your spyhole and chain and ask who they are through the door first.
- Check their identification, even if they have a pre-arranged appointment.
- If you're not expecting them and they don’t have ID, don’t let them in.
- If they leave you a contact number don’t use it as it may be fake. Find the company’s number in the phone book, on the internet or on a recent bill instead.
- If you need to get something, close the door until you return.
- If in doubt ask them to leave and come back at a more convenient time when a family member or friend can be with you.
A rogue trader is someone who comes to your house without invitation (cold calling), offering services or goods and overcharging for them. This includes overcharging for unnecessary work, damaging property deliberately to get money, leaving work unfinished and intimidating someone to get money.
Sign up to Kent Trading Standard's email alert system to receive rogue trader and fraud updates direct to your inbox.
Top tips to protect yourself
- Check they’re from the company they say they’re from.
- Ask for their quote in writing and then ring 3 or more other traders to get an average price.
- Remember traders must give you written notice of your right to 14 days cancellation when agreeing to do work at your home, including work gained from a cold call
- If in doubt, don’t agree to services or goods from doorstep callers.
Child sexual exploitation
If a child is either encouraged or forced to take part in a sexual act, often in return for affection, drugs, alcohol or a place to stay, it’s sexual exploitation or Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).
It can happen to any young person from any background and they can be targeted by abusers in person or online, using technology such as webcams and picture sharing platforms.
Most victims don’t realise they’re being exploited.
Spot the signs of CSE
Whether you're a parent, you work with young people or you're concerned a child is at risk, there are a number of signs you can look out for:
- Unexplained gifts or expensive items, such as clothes or mobiles
- Drug or alcohol use
- Bruises or marks on the body
- Contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Regularly going missing or running away
- Missing school or not taking part in class
- Often seen getting in or out of different vehicles
- Changes in behaviour, for example aggressive, defensive, mood swings
- Inappropriate sexual behaviour like being over familiar with strangers or sexting
- Changes in appearance such as losing weight, malnourished
- Hanging out with anti-social groups, gangs, known criminals and/or fighting
- Having relationships and friendships with older people
- Involved in abusive relationships, feeling fearful of certain people.
Help and support
If you're concerned a child is already suffering or is likely to be harmed, or if you're a young person worried about being sexually exploited, there are a number of organisations that can help depending on the circumstances:
- If a child is in immediate danger, dial 999
- If you believe a child has been exploited or you're worried a child may be at risk of exploitation in Kent, you can report it online or contact us on our non-emergency number: 101, please quote Operation Willow.
- Kent County Council children's social services - 03000 414444 (out of hours emergency number: 03000 419191)
- Medway Council children's social care - 01634 334466 (out of hours emergency number: 03000 419191)
- Stop CSE - 116000
- NSPCC - 0808 800 5000
- Childline - 0800 1111
- NWG Network
- Children's Commissioner
- Face up 2 it
- Dandelion Time
Domestic abuse is any type of:
- violent behaviour between people in a relationship.
But it isn’t just physical violence – domestic abuse includes:
- psychological abuse.
Abusive behaviour can occur in any relationship. It can continue even after the relationship has ended.
Anyone can be abused or abusers.
If you’re suffering physical, sexual, emotional or financial abuse, or are being intimidated or threatened by a current or previous partner or family member, you’re a victim of domestic abuse.
To view the full range of support and information available in Kent and Medway or to talk to someone other than the police, visit Kent and Medway Domestic Abuse Services website.
Female genital mutilation
Female genital mutilation (FGM) also known as ‘female circumcision’ or ‘cutting’ is a term for procedures which partially or totally remove external genital organs, or cause injury to them, for cultural or non-medical reasons. FGM is considered to be child abuse in the UK.
While some parents may not think it’s harmful, it’s medically unnecessary, extremely painful and has serious health consequences.
A number of girls die from blood loss or infection. In the longer term, they’re twice as likely to die in childbirth, and four times more likely to give birth to a stillborn child.
The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 makes it illegal to:
- practice FGM in the UK
- assist a girl to mutilate her own genitalia, whether in the UK or abroad
- take British Nationals or permanent UK residents abroad for FGM whether or not it’s lawful in that country
It’s also illegal for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to:
- perform FGM on anyone overseas
- help FGM be carried out abroad
FGM offences can lead to 14 years in prison and/or a fine.
- NSPCC FGM Helpline – 0800 028 3550
- FORWARD - Foundation for Women's Health Research and Development. Forward was established in the UK in 1983 and are based in North West London. They formed in response to health professionals seeing a rise in problems caused by Female Genital Mutilation. They work to eliminate the practice and provide support to women affected by FGM.
- National FGM Centre – 0208 498 7137
- IKWRO - IKWRO (Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation) provides advice and support to Middle Eastern women and girls living in the UK who are facing forced marriage, 'honour' based violence, FGM and domestic abuse.
- Daughters of Eve - an organisation that works to protect girls and young women who are at risk from Female Genital Mutilation.
- Black Women's Health and Family Support [BWHAFS] - their primary area of concern is promoting the eradication of Female Genital Mutilation [FGM]. They predominantly work with Somali and other black communities in London, in particular Tower Hamlets.
Fraud and cyber crime
Fraud and cyber crime can affect anyone, but those most in need of extra support are often targeted. It's important you know how you can protect yourself and your family.
Victims often feel embarrassed about what has happened but there is no reason to be and its important you speak to Kent Police. Reporting fraud helps the police understand new techniques and put out warnings, investigate incidents and put people before the courts.
In the UK we have a centralised fraud reporting centre called Action Fraud. They record all incidents and provide specialist support and advice.
Report Fraud Online if one of the following applies:
- You know who the suspect is and their address is in Kent.
- Items or goods are to be delivered to a known address in Kent.
- You (or the victim) describe yourself as vulnerable.
You can also call Kent Police on 101 if you don't have access to a computer or smartphone.
How secure are you online?
While it's natural to want to make our lives easier online, avoid being tempted to use the same password for multiple accounts or use a password that's very easy to remember (ie password123).
Criminals know that sometimes we don't use secure passwords and use it against us to steal our data.
Top ten tips
You can make sure your digital identity is harder to steal by following these simple steps or watching our short video.
Have you been affected?
If you believe you have experienced hate crime - report it. Please don't suffer in silence.
Speak to Kent Police, a relative, carer, friend or your teacher. It's important to report hate crimes. Everyone has the right to live free from fear, prejudice and violence, regardless of race, colour, nationality, ethnic origin, sexual orientation or any other difference. By reporting hate crime you could prevent it from happening to someone else.
If you experience it, witness hate crime, or know someone who has experienced hate crime - please report it to the police – in an emergency call 999 or, in a non-emergency call 101. You can also report it online
How can Kent Fire and Rescue Service help?
If you or someone you know has experienced hate crime, even if fire hasn't played a factor, we can help. Together with Kent Police and other agencies, we can support you or them to feel safer at home through the fitting of smoke alarms, letterbox security devices and tailored advice regarding security and fire safety. Please talk to us.
Partner agency referrals
If you are a partner agency making a referral for someone else, find out more here and complete the agency referral form.
What is hate crime?
Crimes and incidents of hatred or hostility based on someone's race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability.
Hate crimes often go unreported. Any hate crime is a crime, but being different isn't. Reporting makes a difference - to you, your friends and your community.
Examples of hate crime might include:
- Name-calling or verbal abuse
- Harassment, like constantly knocking on the door or throwing eggs at windows
- Bullying or intimidation by children, adults, neighbours or strangers
- Physical assault, for example hitting, punching, pushing, spitting, violent words
- Damage to property including arson
- Threats of violence
- Upsetting online comments, for example on Facebook or Twitter
Why report hate crimes?
Hate incidents and hate crimes are cowardly and unacceptable and no-one should have to put up with this sort of abusive behaviour. As well as the person who experiences hate crime, such offences can also affect family members and sometimes a whole section of the community.
There are many other ways to report hate crime. The important thing is that you tell someone about it.
You can report online via the True Vision website which is especially dedicated to hate crimes and hate incidents.
Alternatively, you can contact other organisations for support and advice:
Call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 - This number is free of charge from a land line or mobile phone
Your local Citizen’s Advice Centre – www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Honour based abuse and forced marriage
Honour based abuse
Honour based abuse is not about religion, it's about culture. It's to do with beliefs and customs and an expectation that people should behave in a certain way. Not doing so can be seen as bringing 'shame' or 'dishonour' on individuals, a family or a community.
But there’s no honour in inflicting pain or hurt on anyone and no excuse for abuse or violence.
Acts carried out in the name of honour such as violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation are illegal in the UK and carry substantial prison sentences.
You have the right to choose who you marry, when you marry or if you marry at all.
Sometimes people face threats, physical or sexual violence or are made to feel like they’re bringing shame on their family if they don’t marry a specific person.
If someone physically, emotionally or psychologically pressures you into marriage they’re breaking the law and can be sentenced to up to 7 years in prison.
It’s also illegal to:
- take someone overseas to force them to marry (whether or not the marriage takes place)
- marry someone who lacks the mental capacity to consent to marriage (whether they’re pressured to or not)
Arranged marriages have worked well in society for many years and are not the same as forced marriages.
There is a clear difference.
In arranged marriages the families of both spouses take a leading role but the choice whether or not to accept the proposal remains with the prospective spouses themselves.
Mate crime can happen to anyone but children and adults with learning difficulties are especially a target. It is committed when someone ‘makes friends’ with a person but goes on to abuse or exploit that person instead. The intention of the relationship, from the point of view of the perpetrator, is therefore likely to be criminal. The perpetrator can be perceived as a carer, friend or family member but will exploit the relationship.
Mate crime may involve:
- The perpetrator might demand or ask to be lent money and then not pay it back
- The perpetrator might misuse or borrow and not return the property of a person
- When the person has received their benefits and been shopping the perpetrator may visit and clear the cupboards of food and alcohol
- The person may be kicked, punched etc. for the amusement of the perpetrator and others
- The person may be seriously injured or ultimately the abuse may result in death
- The perpetrator might manipulate or mislead the person
- The perpetrator might make them feel worthless
- The perpetrator might call them names
- The perpetrator might groom the person for criminal offences
- The person might be coerced into prostitution
- The person might be sexually exploited by someone they think is their partner or friend
- The person might be persuaded to perform sexual acts they do not feel comfortable with
Spot the signs
- There may be a change in the victim’s behaviour or appearance or have unexplained injuries
- The victim may have had money or possessions taken from them
- The victim has become more isolated and gained a new friend
What are the consequences?
- Some people may not even realise they are victims of mate crime and therefore may defend the relationship
- The victim may be frightened to tell someone about it and feel isolated
- It can lead to bullying but often starts with people being ‘friends’
- How to report it:
If you'd prefer not to report it directly to Kent Police:
- use TrueVision's online reporting facility
- call Victim Support on 0300 303 0156
- call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111
You can also get help and support from:
Modern slavery and human trafficking
While awareness of modern slavery and human trafficking is slowly growing, the signs are often hidden, making victims even harder to recognise. Businesses like nail bars, takeaways, car washes and farms may unknowingly be employing people who have been trafficked into the country – or they could be a cover. Landlords could be providing accommodation to groups of people being controlled or exploited. And taxi companies, petrol stations or hotels may be used when transporting, holding or working victims.
What can you do if you suspect modern day slavery or human trafficking?
It's closer than you think.
Download the Support for Victims of Human Trafficking leaflet. It’s available in Albanian, Czech, English, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Ugandan, Mandarin, Polish, Romanian, Slovakian, Vietnamese and Yoruba.
Get Help immediately
If you or someone else is in immediate danger call Kent Police on 999.
For support and guidance you can call:
- Salvation Army on their 24-hour confidential helpline on 0300 3038151.
- Unseen's Modern Day Slavery team on their 24 hour helpline on 08000 121 700. Their helpline provides guidance for people who suspect modern slavery and support for modern slavery victims.
- National Crime Agency
- Migrant Help UK
- Medaille Trust - Human Trafficking support charity
- Kalayaan - support for migrant domestic workers
- Unseen - support for victims of slavery
- New Pathways - support for victims of rape and sexual abuse
- Refugee Council - supporting refugees in the UK