Quarterly report from the Professionals Online Safety Helpline

The POSH helpline has released its quarterly report for the start of the year from January to March. Carmel Glassbrook (helpline practitioner) breaks down the key findings around professional’s online safety.

In the first quarter of 2021, we have seen an increase of (4%) of cases compared with the same reporting period of 2020. Overall we have had 200 cases through to the helpline and handled 334 contacts.

Who called the helpline?

  • We support the whole of the children’s workforce in the UK, but primarily hear from schools.
  • 47% of our contacts came from teachers and 5.9% came from ‘other school staff’, (these were mostly pastoral staff).
  • 5.9% of contacts came from the police and 6.8% were from parents. Females are more likely to get in touch with the helpline, with 58% of all contacts being identified as female, whereas 38% identified as male.

What’s the issue?

In the last year, remote learning has become an essential part of children’s lives. At the start of the year, we were still receiving calls from schools and other organisation about how to move services online, the practical functionality of different platforms and policy of remote learning.

We categorise these calls as ‘media literacy & education’; they made up 26% of contacts.

Cases categorised as ‘online reputation’ made up 19% of contacts. These cases are usually about the reputation of a school/organisation/professional being brought into disrepute online. More often than not, this takes place on a social media channel, in the guise of a ‘fake’ or ‘impersonation’ account.

‘Potentially harmful content’ came in at 17% and ‘cyberbullying’ 10%.

Where the case surrounded a live issue online, 33% of contacts related to an issue on a social media platform.  7% occurred on a video conferencing platform (which is something we have rarely had come up prior to lockdowns), and only 4% on websites.


We try to capture where we are receiving calls from so we can get a better picture of the landscape across the UK.

England takes the majority with 96% of contacts, with London being the busiest area at 12% of this total. 6% came from Somerset and despite being located in Devon, only 4% of our contacts came from here. 1.4% of contacts come from Scotland and 1.9% from Wales.

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