Child neglect offences double since 2012

By Gabriella Jozwiak

| 04 December 2018

Police dealt with more than twice the number of child cruelty and neglect reports in the UK last year compared with five years ago, the NSPCC has found.

Police forces recorded 16,939 child cruelty and neglect offences in 2017/18. Picture: NSPCC

Figures collected by the charity from the Home Office and police in Northern Ireland and Scotland showed that in 2017/18 forces recorded 16,939 child cruelty and neglect offences, up from almost 7,965 in 2012/13.

The offences included cases of parents deliberately neglecting, assaulting, abandoning or exposing their child to serious harm. One included a child who had to have his legs amputated as a result of abuse and cruelty from his biological parents, who were sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The charity warned that the figures do not reflect the true level of neglect, as they excluded cases dealt with by social workers.

The Association of Directors of Children's Services annual Safeguarding Pressures research found that in 2017 almost 348,000 referrals made to local authority children's services were primarily for abuse or neglect, accounting for 55 per cent of all cases.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said it is unclear why the number of child neglect and cruelty offences has risen so dramatically, but suggested "greater public awareness and improvements in how police record offences could be factors, along with deeper societal issues".

The NSPCC also received more contacts to its helpline services about neglect than any other in the same year - 19,937 from a total of more than 66,000 calls and emails from people across the UK and Channel Islands, accounting for 31 per cent of the total. 

Helpline staff referred more than 14,600 contacts about child neglect to authorities in 2017/18.

To raise awareness of child neglect the NSPCC has launched its Christmas appeal, Light For Every Childhood.

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