The professionals online safety helpline (POSH) is a free support service for the whole of the children's workforce in the UK. Delivered by SWGfL as part of its work within the UK Safer Internet Centre, the helpline plays a unique role in the online safeguarding of both children and professionals, in 2017 the helpline took over 2,200 contacts via email and phone relating to 931 individual cases.
How POSH can help you and your school
One of the key strengths of the helpline is a strong relationship with industry. POSH has named contacts within companies such as Facebook (who also own Instagram and WhatsApp), Twitter, Google, Roblox and so on. This gives them a unique opportunity to escalate content for removal when normal reporting routes do not work. This is not something that they need to do in every case and in fact last year, only 30% of cases were ever escalated. They also signpost to relevant third-party services and advise on the next steps a caller can take.
The helpline is open from Monday to Friday from 10 am to 4 pm.
Call 0344 381 44772 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A typical case
It has come to the attention of the head teacher that there is an account on Instagram using the school name and logo. The author is using this page to post pictures of students and staff harvested from the school website. The issue is that in these posts they are making degrading and hurtful comments, ridiculing the individuals and the school. The school has tried reporting this abuse to Instagram but have not had a positive response. At this point, the school contacted the helpline for advice, who were able to send them the correct reporting form and the account was removed successfully within 24 hours. POSH was also able to provide tips for the school on how they could investigate who was behind the account and advise them how to best handle any future incidents quickly and effectively.
A not so typical case
A year 11 teacher is calling after several girls in her class have come to her very distressed. The girls are reporting that a Snapchat group has been set up and the group is being used to distribute indecent images of children. Some of the girls are the subjects of these images and are very upset. With this information, she called the helpline. They were then able to work together to get the names of the people within the group and POSH quickly escalated this information to Snapchat. The group was removed and Snapchat suspended each user from their service. POSH also advised the teacher on reporting to the police. They provided the school with follow up resources and support for the girls including their award-winning booklet So you Got Naked Online.
First published 13 February 2019