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Staying Safe

Safe In the Community

Safe In the Community

We want young people in Bedford to feel safe.

There are ways you can help yourself to stay safe, including:

  • not sharing your address, phone number or email address with people you don't know
  • not inviting people you don't know into your home
  • locking your windows and doors when you leave the house or when you go to sleep
  • getting to know your neighbours in case of an emergency
  • making sure you're familiar with where you live

Reporting a Concern

If you are worried about someone’s safety, or you do not feel safe, there are people you can talk to about your concerns.

Early Help

Early Help is intervening as soon as possible to tackle problems emerging for children, young people and their families to improve their outcomes.

Early Help is for pre-birth to age 19 (up to 25 if a young adult has identified Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities).

Early Help allows for support to be put in place at the right time to meet families' needs prior to issues reaching crisis point. It draws upon families' own skills and promotes self-reliance.

Effective early help relies upon local organisations and agencies working together to:

  • identify children and families who would benefit from early help
  • undertake an assessment of the need for early help
  • provide targeted early help services to address the assessed needs of a child and their family which focuses on activity to improve the outcomes for the child

Safeguarding Children

If you are worried about the wellbeing of a child, you need to speak to someone about it.

There are many possible signs of abuse and neglect, ranging from physical injury to changes in appearance or behaviour.  Alternatively, you may witness an incident or a child may tell you that he or she is being harmed.

Child abuse is when a child is intentionally harmed by an adult or another child – it can be over a period of time but can also be a one-off action. It can be physical, sexual or emotional and it can happen in person or online. It can also be a lack of love, care and attention – this is neglect.

NSPCC - What is Child Abuse

If you are worried, please report it. You could help to save a child's life, even if you don't know them, or even their name. Safeguarding is everyone's responsibility. 

In an emergency or if someone is in immediate danger, always call 999. 

Integrated Front Door

If you think that a child has been harmed or is being neglected, contact the Integrated Front Door or call the Police on 101. 

If you are in any doubt about making a referral, you can always contact us, and we will advise you as to what should happen next.

If your concern is of an immediate safeguarding nature then please contact the Integrated Front Door on 01234 718700 during office hours (8.45am to 5.20pm, Monday to Thursday; 8.45am to 4.20pm on a Friday) or out of office hours please call the Emergency Duty Team (EDT) on 0300 300 8123.

The IFD brings together the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) and Early Help Hub in one place to facilitate early, better quality information sharing, analysis and decision-making to safeguard children, young people and families more effectively.

Childline - talk in confidence

If you are a child or young person and would like to talk to someone in confidence, you can call Childline on 0800 1111 even if you don't have any credit and it won't show on your phone bill.

When you call Childline, you'll go through to a switchboard where someone friendly will ask if you want to speak to a counsellor. You can also go to the Childline website to log in for a 1-2-1 counsellor chat (you might wait a little while before being connected with a counsellor). Or you can send Childline an email from your Childline locker

You can find more information about types of abuse, what happens when you report abuse, and the work being done by social care services and other professionals to protect children in Bedfordshire on the Bedfordshire Safeguarding Children Board Website 

Safeguarding Adults

If you believe an adult is being abused or neglected or is potentially at risk, please contact Bedford Borough Council Adult Safeguarding Team on 

  • 01234 276222 (Monday to Thursday 9am – 5:30pm. Friday 9am to 4pm).  Outside of these times our Emergency Duty Team should be contacted on 0300 300 8123
  • In an emergency ring 999 and speak to the police.

What is abuse?

Safeguarding adults is about protecting those at risk of harm through abuse or neglect, which can occur at any time in any location, such as in the home, a public place, hospital, a care home or at college.  You may not know the person who is causing you harm, but it's more likely that they will be known to you.

Abuse and neglect can come in many different forms, including physical, sexual and financial and it's important to recognise some of the potential signs...

Physical abuse

  • Being pushed, kicked, bitten, slapped, hit or punched
  • Being burnt, choked or held down
  • Things being thrown by the other person

Emotional abuse

  • Being belittled or put down
  • You're blamed for the abuse or arguments, whilst the other person denies it's happening or plays it down
  • They isolate you from family and friends or stop you going out or to work or college
  • They tell you what to wear, who to see, where to go and what to think

Sexual abuse

  • Being touched in a way you don’t want to be 
  • Hurting you during sex or pressuring you into unsafe sex
  • Making unwanted sexual demands or forcing you to have sex when you don’t want to, which is rape

Financial abuse

  • Controlling your money or not giving you enough to buy food and other essential items
  • Not allowing you to work, so you have no independent income
  • Obtaining credit cards in your name, without your permission 

Please note...This is not an exhaustive list of signs, there may be others to look out for too.  To find out more about adult abuse and neglect, visit the Bedfordshire Adult Safeguarding Board

Abuse or neglect of any description is wrong, whether it's intentional or not, and by reporting it, you can help put a stop to it.

Hate Crime

A hate crime is when someone is verbally and / or physically abused, intimidated, victimised or harassed, because of their race, faith, religion, disability or sexuality.  Anyone can be a victim of hate crime, it doesn’t just happen to people from minority communities.  It’s a criminal offence, so if you see something, don’t look away and ignore it, please report it straight away.

A disability hate crime is any crime that you or someone else thinks has happened to you because you have a disability.

Useful links

An Easy Read Guidance Booklet about Hate Crime and Mate Crime

Friend-or-Fake-Booklet.pdf (

David’s story (

Sarah’s Story (

To find out more about hate crime and how you can report it, please click here 


Mate crime

Mate crime can happen in many different relationships. They are perpetrated by an individual or small group of individuals who are friends or befriend an often vulnerable and friendly person. These 'mates' then use your friendship to steal and take advantage of the trust you have in them.

  • A 'mate' may be a new friend, an old friend, a family member, a neighbour, a person paid to help you in your home or another person you meet and talk with on a regular basis.
  • Mate crime is always done by someone you know.
  • All suspected mate crimes should be reported to Bedford Police (telephone 101).

If you are concerned about someone or suspect someone is being abused please report it,


Using the Internet

For young people with special educational needs, understanding how to keep safe online is especially important.

There are several services that can help you stay safe online:

Click here to see advice designed by young people with SEND.

Childnet Hub for Young People Aged 11-18 Years

Online bullying and Special Educational Needs

Mencap have some really useful information on their website about staying safe online, as well as whilst out in the community.

If you are beginning to use the internet to connect with friends, interact with others and play online games, Internet Matters can guide you in making sure you keep yourself and your identity safe online. Other useful sites include:-

For more support call the Safer Internet Helpline.

If someone has acted in an inappropriate way with you or with someone you know, report it on the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) website:

CEOP report it

If someone has acted in an inappropriate way with you, or with someone you know, report it on the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) website. There is a parents and carer guide  Parents and carers | CEOP Education (


Sexting is when someone sends or receives a sexually explicit text, image or video on their mobile phone, usually in a text message. They can be sent from a friend, boyfriend, girlfriend or someone you've met online. You might have also sent a sexual photo, video or text to someone else. 

When people talk about sexting, they usually refer to sending and receiving: 

  • Naked pictures or 'nudes'
  • 'Underwear shots'
  • Sexual or 'dirty pics'
  • Rude text messages or videos. 

The sharing of naked pictures is not a new thing but the speed with which you can share and the amount of people that can access the pictures has dramatically increased as a result of the online world.


  • It's not harmless - taking, sharing or receiving an image, even voluntarily, can have a long-lasting negative impact such as blackmail and bullying to name a few.
  • It's illegal - by sending an explicit image, a young person is producing and distributing child abuse images and risks being prosecuted, even if the picture is taken and shared with their permission.
  • No control - it's easy to send a photo or message but you have no control about how it's passed on. Anyone can see the image, save it or copy it to other people. Do you want everyone seeing that picture of you?
  • Reputation damage - as you don't know who sees it, your reputation could be damaged by this type of content if friends, family, schools, future employers do see it. You may feel you can trust the person you have sent it to but something so personal can affect your life and emotional wellbeing if it did get out.

What to do if it happens to you 

  • Stay calm and act quickly: If you are worried about an issue of sexting the quicker you act the easier it is to manage the distribution of the content.
  • Talk to someone: It can be hard asking for help but in a situation like this it is really important. Family, professionals and friends want to make sure you are safe. In order for them to help you they need to know all of the facts so be honest and let them know what happened and how you are feeling.
  • Will I get in trouble with the police? The Association of Chief Police Officers have stated that young people will be treated as victims and that sexting needs to be dealt with on a case by case basis.

What to do if it happens to your child 

  • Try to remain calm and supportive.
  • Reassure your child that they are not alone.
  • Listen and offer support - if there is a problem your child will be feeling bad and needs your help, support and advice, not criticism.
  • Try not to shout or make your child feel like it is their fault.
  • Don't ask questions like "why have you done it", as your child will feel embarrassed and guilty.
  • Ask your child what they want to happen - this will depend on the situation but take immediate steps where possible; and reassure your child that the issue will be addressed even if you need a little time to work out the best course of action for the long term.
  • Agree a set of actions to address the issue, such as reporting the abuse or getting additional counselling.
  • If you have a trusted friend it may be helpful to discuss this with them.
  • Call the NSPCC helpline to talk to one of their trained counsellors.
  • Tell your child they can phone ChildLine on 0800 1111 for additional support.

Where to get help and advice

This can be a stressful and emotional situation for those involved, so it's important to know that help and advice is available: 

  • So you got naked online - despite its name this is a useful resource by childnet designed for young people to use as well as parents.
  • Hot topics - Sexting - this is another useful resource developed by childnet outlining the law, risks, and most importantly - what to do next, and where you can get help.
  • If you are worried that you or your child have been bullied or groomed into sending inappropriate images you need to make a report to CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection).
  • Childline also has some useful information about sexting and you can always speak in confidence to ChildLine or call them on 0800 1111

If you are concerned about someone please report it.

Preventing extremism (Prevent)

Prevent is about safeguarding people and communities from the threat of terrorism and forms one of the four elements of the government's counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST.

Although acts of terrorism in Herefordshire are thought unlikely, it’s always best to never be too complacent about the potential threat.

If you’d like to find out more about Prevent, please take a look at |Bedfordshire Police Prevent Page

Safety at Home - Fire safety

The number of accidental fires in people's homes has been reducing over the past ten years; however, there is always a potential risk that an accidental fire could start in the home.

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service offer a range of fire safety advice to keep you and your family safe, including their Fire-Safety-in-the-Home leaflet (

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service FREE Home Fire Safety visit

If you or someone you know would benefit from one of our Home Fire Safety team visiting to offer checks and advice, why not fill out our online form to book in for free.

Our Home Fire Safety visits allow us to speak to you about our expertise on staying safe at home. We also offer additional guidance on health, wellbeing and crime prevention. If hazards or risks are identified during the Home Fire Safety visit, the Service is able to refer vulnerable people to appropriate partner agencies for further help and support with making them safer.

Many referrals for home fire safety visits are made through other agencies, but Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service would urge anyone who thinks they or an family member, friend or neighbour might benefit from a visit to get in touch and request one on their behalf.  For more information, visit the Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service

There is also further information about fire safety in the home available on the Home Fire Safety Visits (

Avoiding accidents in the home

More accidents happen at home than anywhere else. There's a lot you can do to avoid them and to stay safe, for example:

  • Make sure your carpets aren't worn, especially on stairs. Remove mats and rugs to reduce the risk of slipping and tripping.
  • Have good lighting on stairs and in the bathroom, and emergency lighting in case of power cuts (torches and battery powered lamps, not candles).
  • Do not overload plug sockets or have a tangle of trailing wires that could be a fire and trip hazard.
  • Consider raising plugs to a more convenient height.
  • Do not use step ladders without help - even better to get someone else to reach what you need.
  • Make sure your slippers fit properly or wear comfy shoes that fasten instead - many accidents happen because of badly fitting footwear.
  • Do not wear long night clothes as these are potential trip hazards.