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Child cruelty offences in the East of England rise by a fifth in two years



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NSPCC has revealed child cruelty and neglect offences in the East of England increased by 20 per cent over the last two years as the country emerged from the pandemic.

In a Freedom of Information request to Bedfordshire Police, Cambridgeshire Constabulary, Hertfordshire Constabulary, Norfolk Constabulary and Suffolk Constabulary, the leading child protection charity found there were 544 offences recorded in 2021/22 – an average of more than one a day. This was up from 452 in 2019/20.

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.

Figures from the NSPCC show levels of neglect are up 20 per cent in the East of England. Stock picture.
Figures from the NSPCC show levels of neglect are up 20 per cent in the East of England. Stock picture.

The charity is highlighting the worrying scale of the problem on its flagship ‘Childhood Day’, and two weeks on from 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.

Both reviews, alongside this new data, reinforce the need for a reset of the child protection system. The NSPCC wants to see children’s social care in England focused on early intervention, with children at its heart. And above all political leadership from the very top of Government.

As thousands of people come together today to back the NSPCC’s Childhood Day, the charity is emphasising that everyone has a responsibility to keep children safe from abuse and neglect.

Figures from the NSPCC show levels of neglect are up 20 per cent in the East of England. Stock picture.
Figures from the NSPCC show levels of neglect are up 20 per cent in the East of England. Stock picture.

It is calling on communities to play their part in a collective effort and is encouraging people to contact the NSPCC with any concerns they have about a child, even if they are unsure and want to get advice, learn the NSPCC Helpline number and support Childhood Day by making a donation to the charity.

Paula Hudgell, adoptive mother to Tony whose biological parents were inprisoned for 10 years after breaking his legs and failing to get help for days, said: “We have witnessed first-hand the devastating effect of child cruelty and neglect and hope no child ever experiences what Tony went through, however, that won’t be made possible without government leading the way and reforming the children’s social care system.

“We play our part in many ways and have been working with the NSPCC for several years. This year we are going into a local school on Childhood Day to raise awareness of child abuse and join in the school’s Big Breaktime fundraising event for the charity. It is important to celebrate the joys of childhood, but a stark reminder that not every child is lucky enough to experience a happy youth.”

Figures from the NSPCC show levels of neglect are up 20 per cent in the East of England. Stock picture.
Figures from the NSPCC show levels of neglect are up 20 per cent in the East of England. Stock picture.

Childhood Day is the NSPCC’s flagship day of fundraising and action that takes place on the second Friday in June every year. This year schools across the UK took part in the NSPCC’s Big Breaktime. This is an extra hour of play where they can remember the special things about childhood whilst raising vital funds for the NSPCC.

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.

NSPCC (57243469)
NSPCC (57243469)

“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.”

This year Lidl GB, who have supported the charity for five years and Sky Cares, Sky’s commitment to supporting the communities where their customers and employees live and work, are sponsoring the NSPCC’s Childhood Day as retail and media partners respectively.

Both partners have helped to raise awareness of Childhood Day, as well as holding their own activities with their colleagues across the UK to help raise vital funds.

Following the launch of Childhood Day in April, the NSPCC has been encouraging people to volunteer at cash collections scattered across the UK between May and early June, take part in the Big Breaktime, fundraise by hosting an event in their community or donate to the charity. People can still get behind Childhood Day today and support the NSPCC by donating at nspcc.org.uk/donate

The NSPCC is urging anyone with concerns about a child, even if they’re unsure, to contact the NSPCC helpline to speak to one of the charity’s professionals. People can call 0808 800 5000, email help@nspcc.org.uk or fill in the online form.



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