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Child neglect and cruelty rises by a quarter in one year

Child neglect and cruelty offences increased by 25% in a single year, the NSPCC has warned.

As the country emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021/22, there were 26,307 offences recorded by police of adults neglecting, mistreating, or assaulting children – an average of 72 a day – which is a 25% rise from the previous year.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO, said: “The statistics we have released today demonstrate the worrying scale of abuse and neglect. This must be a priority for the government.

“The evidence from a series of reviews have shown where and how to better resource and support a child protection system that works better for all those who need it. Now is the time for action,” he added.

At the start of lockdown in March 2020, Chief Executive of WillisPalmer Mark Will warned that many of the measures introduced to combat the spread of COVID placed vulnerable children in increasingly dangerous situations – which is why a lengthy lockdown period could not be justified as the fallout would be even more damaging than coronavirus itself.

NSPCC also warned at the start of the pandemic that an increase in stressors to parents and caregivers, coupled with an increase in children’s vulnerability, and a disruption in normal protective services would lead to an increased risk of abuse.

The data from a Freedom of Information request to police forces in England were published two weeks after the review of the deaths of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson and the independent review of children’s social care. Both reviews highlighted the need for a reset of the child protection system.

The NSPCC wants to see children’s social care in England focused on early intervention, with children at its heart and, above all, political leadership from the very top of government.

Thousands of people united to back the NSPCC’s Childhood Day as the data was published and the charity emphasised that everyone has a responsibility to keep children safe from abuse and neglect.

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