Martin Ford 06 November 2020

Spike in child abuse since pandemic

Ofsted’s chief inspector has warned of an increase in the number of child injuries and deaths uncovered by local authorities since the onset of the pandemic.

Speaking at the National Children and Adults Services (NCAS) conference today, Amanda Spielman said: ‘We must all be alive to this hidden danger.’

She highlighted that between April and October more than 300 serious incident notifications of abuse or neglect of young children were issued by councils, 40% involving babies, including eight deaths.

The figure represents an increase of 20% on the same period last year.

Ms Spielman attributed the rise to a ‘toxic mix’ of poverty, inadequate housing, substance misuse and poor mental health exacerbated by the impact of the ‘COVID pressure cooker’.

Although Ms Spielman praised the ‘good work’ of councils, she added: ‘Continuing restrictions may be hampering face-to-face visits, but while these children are out of sight they should never be out of mind.’

Director of evidence at the Early Intervention Foundation charity, Tom McBride, said: ‘While services have worked hard to stay in touch with families, the lack of regular contact and the lack of home visiting, means that the subtler signs of abuse, neglect or domestic violence, for example, are simply much harder to spot.’

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