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Child neglect offences increase by more than 50%

Child cruelty and neglect offences have risen by more than 50% over three years, the NSPCC has warned.

The children’s charity’s analysis of police data has revealed that there were 23,529 recorded offences over the 12-month period between 2019 and 2020. Although there are significant variations between different regions and nations, the charity is concerned about the increase in child cruelty and neglect and its overall rise of 53% during the past three years.

Furthermore, the NSPCC says that during the first three months of lockdown, police recorded 5,478 child cruelty and neglect offences.

Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC said: “The pandemic is the greatest challenge we’ve faced in decades and these figures are yet another example of its impact on vulnerable children. They also provide a heart-breaking picture of the concern about the number of young people who were exposed to pain and suffering following the start of the pandemic.”

The charity also examined the impact of lockdown on children and families, after their frontline teams became concerned that increased vulnerability, the challenges of safeguarding remotely and wider pressures on families may have increased the risks of abuse and neglect. During the first lockdown in March, an average of 50 children a day contacted Childline after suffering abuse, and counselling sessions about this issue increasing by 22% compared with pre-lockdown levels.

Between 1 April and 30 June this year, there were 5,476 child cruelty and neglect offences recorded by police. However, police warn that those figures are not representative of the levels of neglect and abuse experienced during those months, as not every police-recorded offence leads to a prosecution or child protection outcome, and each represents a significant concern raised to the police about a child.

The NSPCC is urging the government to ensure that a comprehensive recovery plan is put in place to see that children get the help they need in the short and long term, including investment in support for victims before, during and after the criminal justice process.

In a new appeal, the charity is calling on the public to donate £20 to enable the charity to continue its work for vulnerable children during the holidays.

To raise awareness of child neglect and abuse this Christmas, a number of iconic UK landmarks including Battersea Power Station will turn green from 7 December, supporting the NSPCC’s Here for Children Christmas Appeal. The charity has also launched a new TV appeal which highlights some of the situations Childline expect to deal with this Christmas.

The charity is also urging the public to be aware for looking for signs that a child is being neglected or abused including untreated injuries, medical and dental issues, faltering weight or growth, and not reaching developmental milestones, poor language, communication or social skills, unwashed clothes and inadequate clothing in general, like not having a winter coat and being left alone for a long time.

“This year it is even more essential that children have a place where they can seek help and support. Our Childline service will be running every day over the Christmas holidays, but we need the public’s support so we can ensure vulnerable children are heard,” concluded Peter Wanless.

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