William Eichler 14 November 2019

Child abuse linked to faith rises by ‘a third’, council chiefs warn

Child abuse linked to faith rises by ‘a third’, council chiefs warn image

The number of children in England identified by councils as having been abused for reasons associated with a belief system has risen by a third in the past three years, the LGA reports.

Research by the Local Government Association has revealed that abuse of children based on faith or belief, which includes witchcraft, spirit possession and black magic, increased from 1,460 to 1,950 cases between 2016/17 and 2018/19.

This represents a rise of 34% and means that councils dealt with the equivalent of 38 such cases a week over that three year period.

The new figures also show that the number of children identified by councils through a social work assessment as either having or being at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has reached a record high – with 1,000 such cases in 2018/19. This is up 6% on the 940 cases in the previous year.

The National FGM Centre, a joint initiative between the LGA and the children’s charity Barnardo’s, says both sets of figures are hugely worrying, of significant national concern and probably don’t reflect the true prevalence of this ‘hidden’ crime.

The LGA also said that the figures reflect the pressure on children’s services with social workers starting new ‘episode of need’ cases for more than 1,000 children each day.

Cllr Anita Lower, the LGA’s lead on FGM and chair of the National FGM Centre’s Advisory Board, said: ‘Rising cases of FGM and child abuse linked to faith or belief are extremely worrying and are destroying the lives of children and young people in communities across the country.

‘Social workers have become better at identifying the signs of FGM and belief-related abuse, but the true incidence rate is likely to be higher as these crimes are under-reported.

‘Councils are determined to tackle the practice of FGM and work with partner organisations to do everything possible to protect and support children and young people.

‘To support this goal, children’s services departments need to have the funding to address the huge demand for help from children and their families and maximise the effectiveness of prevention and intervention work.’

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Trainee Craft Employee x6

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
£18,795 - £19,945 per annum
Seeking to recruit several Trainee Carpenters within the Asset Management and Maintenance Service. Sandwell, West Midlands
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Social Worker - Family Support & Protection

Essex County Council
£26001.0 - £30000.0 per annum
Please note this role is based in Clacton and is open to Newly Qualified Social Workers (NQSWs). The starting salary for NQSWs is £27,775 per annum an England, Essex, Clacton-On-Sea
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Corporate Director of Neighbourhoods and Climate Change

Durham County Council
£148,583
You will manage a range of front-line services including bins and waste, transport, environmental health, technical services, partnerships and... Durham (County)
Recuriter: Durham County Council

Corporate Director of Regeneration, Economy and Growth

Durham County Council
£148,583
Seeking candidates who are adept at building relationships, able to work successfully with regional and national partners... Durham (County)
Recuriter: Durham County Council

Tenancy Enforcement Assistant

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£22.377 - £23.607
Looking for individuals who have an interest in the environment with good customer service skills, flexible approach to work and a good team player. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Local Government News

Latest issue - Local Goverrnemnt News

This issue of Local Government News explores how councils can tackle modern slavery and trafficking in their supply chains, finds out more about Cambridge's first cohousing scheme and the launch of a new project to build a shared service pattern library for local government.

This issue also contains a special focus on children's services and how councils are protecting children following local safeguarding children boards being abolished.

Register for your free magazine