William Eichler 10 June 2022

Child cruelty and neglect up by 25%

Child cruelty and neglect up by 25% image
Image: 271 EAK MOTO/Shutterstock.com.

Child cruelty and neglect offences increased by a quarter last year as the country emerged from the pandemic, a children’s charity has revealed.

In a Freedom of Information request to police forces in England the NSPCC found there were 26,307 offences recorded in 2021/22 – an average of 72 a day – which is a 25% rise from last year.

NSPCC experts 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.

As part of Childhood Day, the charity is now calling for a ‘reset’ of the child protection system with children’s social care in England more focused on early intervention.

NSPCC CEO Sir Peter Wanless 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.

‘But our message isn’t just for politicians. It’s vital to remember that child abuse can be prevented. As thousands of people get behind Childhood Day today, they demonstrate their support for positive change and their willingness to play a part in keeping children safe.’

A spokesperson for the Local Government Association (LGA) said: 'These stark findings underline the importance of early intervention, family help and decisive child protection being at the centre of children’s social care.

'However spiralling costs and increased demand mean is making it increasingly challenging to provide all children and families with the help they need, when they need it.

'We continue to call on the Government to ensure children’s social care is fully funded to ensure that we can keep children safe, with the need for urgent investment recognised in the recent Independent Review of Children’s Social Care.

'The review is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform the systems we have in place not only to keep children and young people safe, but to help them thrive.

'We now want to work quickly with government and partners on identifying elements of the care review we can and should swiftly implement, and on planning the medium-to-long term reform process. This must include commitment from across Whitehall to tackle the issues children’s social care cannot solve alone, including access to health services and ending child poverty.'

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