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As an operational Governor working in Her Majesty’s Prison Service (1991-2011), I was responsible for an Offender Management Unit. We dealt with safeguarding, offender casework, their rehabilitation needs and also the families in joining up the cognitive therapies and probation case management to help offenders reintegrate back into society and the family unit.

It was during my earlier time (still in uniform) as the units manager that I first became aware of the NSPCC and the amazing work they do for children and their families. 

Fast forward 8 years, I am very proud to be supporting the NSPCC again as we launch the InventoryBase Academy NSPCC Safeguarding Awareness Course.

Aimed at all property professionals; the course revolves around the information and guidance of the NSPCC in how to spot emerging safeguarding concerns, including potential neglect or abuse in the home.

This is a particular passion of mine as I recognise the role inventory providers can play in being the eyes and ears of the NSPCC. Our job places us in the very setting that for some children, can be a very troubling experience but can often go unnoticed and unreported.

The problems they face are not always that obvious and happen behind closed doors. Doors that during our interim inspections/visits are opened allowing us to see and experience more than perhaps most. 

Statistically; 1 in 100 adults aged 18 to 74 years will have experienced physical neglect before the age of 16 years (481,000 people). With 18,706 record cases of acts of cruelty to children/young persons in the year ending March 2019; anything we can do prevent even one child going through such an experience has to be acted on. (Office For National Statistics; March 2019)

Now, I am not for one minute saying our profession holds the key to ending neglect or abuse, but with the very real stresses and strains being felt by families at the moment it is imperative that as an industry we do what we can to help.

As inventory clerks, we have a unique skill set., We have the experience and ability to see the not so obvious and could, therefore, be in the position to seek help for a child, young person or family when they either cannot or will not see that help is needed.

However, our role also means it can be and is quite a precarious one. We do not have contracts or written agreements when it comes to engaging with landlords and agents. It is often based on ‘goodwill’ and a handshake (though clearly even that isn’t possible now) which means there is a very real reluctance to ‘get involved’. 

It is a natural human instinct to help others. Any perceived interference could be seen negatively, as going beyond the clerk’s remit, causing ‘problems’ and or the family to be split up. This could put the working relationship with the client in jeopardy, especially if it means the let is either abandoned or disrupted financially.

But our priority as an industry should be to ensure that if, when visiting a property, you have concerns about the safety of a child you should tell someone as their safety is paramount.

The NSPCC state that if you call; one of their call handlers will connect you with a trained practitioner. They’ll discuss your concerns with you and:

  • talk you through the whistleblowing process
  • take details of your concern
  • explain the protection available to you if you need it
  • get relevant agencies and authorities to take action on your concern

You don’t have to tell them who you are if you don’t want to – you can remain anonymous. If you do give them your name and or contact details you can ask them not to share these with other agencies.

Inventory clerks work in detail. They look for the not so obvious and have a talent for describing, de-escalation and an equally keen eye that sees more than just a property. All of which is a unique skill set that is very much undervalued by the lettings industry and the work and awareness I am currently undertaking is because I want to change this.

As inventory clerks/property professionals; completing the awareness course will help you to recognise any potential issues seen whilst visiting the property. With the support and advice of NSPCC Learning; our aim is to ensure that you are supported so that you feel confident when reporting any concerns.

If you have concerns about a child or young person you should: 

  • contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 or 
  • email
  • contact your local child protection services (contact details can be found on the website for the local authority the child lives in)
  • contact the police

You can also contact us here at InventoryBase Academy if you need support, to talk through any issues or concerns that you may have relating to safeguarding, your policies or procedures. 

You can email and put Safeguarding in the subject box so we know to prioritise your email. Our lead is: Sián Hemming-Metcalfe

Every child is worth fighting for – and as a charity, the NSPCC works hard to keep children and young people safe from abuse and neglect every day. By completing the free InventoryBase Academy NSPCC Safeguarding Awareness Course you are supporting the important and vital work that they do.

sian metcalfe