Rocketing number of child neglect allegations are referred to North-East police and social services

NSPCC bosses fear child neglect problems could be far higher than reported.
NSPCC bosses fear child neglect problems could be far higher than reported.

The number of child neglect allegations referred to authorities by helpline bosses has rocketed regionally in the last five years.

New figures from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) show the charity refers an average of just under 18 reports every week to police and social

services in the North East and Cumbria.

In 2016-17 the NSPCC helpline dealt with 927 reports in this way following calls or emails from concerned adults – the highest number the charity has ever had to handle from the region

and up 128 per cent from just over 400 in 2011-12.

Nationwide, the helpline made 16,882 referrals to children’s services or the police in 2016-17 - equivalent to 46 a day.

Neglect happens when a child’s needs aren’t met and is down to several reasons ranging from parents not having the skills, support or funds to having mental health issues.

A growing number of people contacting the NSPCC Helpline also described parents as having a problem with alcohol and drugs with some of them regularly leaving their children

unsupervised so they could go drinking with friends.

The figures, which have yet to be publicly reduced down to individual towns and cities, are revealed in the NSPCC’s state of the nation report How Safe are our Children? and

cites unprecedented pressures on children's social care in England as among the factors for the rise.

The NSPCC also believes the full scale of the problem could be much greater and is urging the Government to commission a nationwide study that measures the extent of child neglect

and abuse in the UK.

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said: “Neglect can have severe and long-lasting consequences for children, and can also be an indicator of other forms of abuse.

"This is why it is so important for anyone suspecting a child of being neglected to contact the NSPCC Helpline, so we can alert the authorities to quickly step in and help those in need.

“At the same time, it is vital we understand the true nature and scale of child neglect in the UK so we can collectively tackle the fundamental causes.

"Therefore, a Government commissioned, nationwide prevalence study on child abuse and neglect needs to be conducted and sooner rather than later.”

Adults with concerns about how children are treated can contact the NSPCC Helpline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 0808 800 5000 or by emailing help@nspcc.org.uk

Common signs and symptoms adults may notice in a child who is being neglected include:

* Poor appearance and hygiene (they may be smelly or have unwashed clothes);

* Living in an unsuitable home environment (for example, dog mess being left or not having any heating);

* Left alone for a long time;

* Untreated injuries, medical and dental issues (they may have skin sores, rashes, flea bites, scabies or ringworm);

* Poor language, communication or social skills;

* Seem hungry or turn up to school without having breakfast or any lunch money.