The number of child cruelty and neglect offences increased by a quarter in a year as England emerged from the pandemic, police figures indicate. Freedom of information (FOI) requests to forces across England showed there were 26,307 cruelty and neglect offences reported in 2021/22, according to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).
This is an average of 72 cases a day, and a 25% increase from 21,102 cases the year before, the NSPCC said. Of the 39 police forces in England, 36 responded to the charity’s FOI requests.
The NSPCC released the figures on Friday, Childhood Day, to highlight the importance of everyone playing their part in keeping children safe. The charity urged that vulnerable children are prioritised due to the scale of the problem coming out of the pandemic.
It has also called for children’s social care in England to focus on early intervention and political leadership from the top of Government. It comes two weeks after the publication of the Independent Review into Children’s Social Care and the National Review into the deaths of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson, which showed the need for a reset of the child protection system.
Sir Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, 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 has 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.”
For Childhood Day, schools across the UK are taking part in the NSPCC’s Big Breaktime, an extra hour of play to help raise funds. People can support Childhood Day and the NSPCC by donating at nspcc.org.uk/donate.
The NSPCC also urges anyone with concerns about a child, even if they are unsure, to contact its helpline on 0808 800 5000, email [email protected] or fill in the online form.