New data shows recorded offences of adults neglecting, mistreating, or assaulting children have doubled over the last 5 years, according to the NSPCC.
The NSPCC are concerned that the number of child cruelty offences is increasing steadily year on year. Their analysis of Freedom of Information data from police forces in England has found there were 29,405 offences recorded between April 2022 and March 2023, increasing from 14,263 offences recorded between April 2017 and March 2018.
These figures come after a series of court cases into the deaths of babies and children, including 18-month-old Alfie Phillips, whose mother and partner were found guilty of his murder last week.
The NSPCC are calling on the current government to push forward their plans to reform the child protection system, and ensure that practitioners are supported and equipped with the best possible skills and expertise to work directly with families and share information effectively. Currently, the frontline of child protection, including health, policing and children’s services, are experiencing increasing costs and high demand.
The child protection system has been under increasing pressure over the last few years, particularly since the pandemic. In 2022/23, more than 655,000 child in need assessments were completed by children’s social care to determine whether a child needs support from a service.
Also, England’s largest councils have reported that they are overspending on their budgets by £600 million due to “uncontrollable” spending pressures driving up the cost of of delivering services to vulnerable children. Sir Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive said:
“These latest child cruelty figures are a stark wake-up call that our current system is struggling to prevent the horrifying abuse and neglect happening to some of the youngest and most vulnerable in our society.
The government has pledged to reform the child protection system to provide earlier support for babies, children and young people and stop families’ problems escalating to crisis point. The figures underline why it is urgent that these changes are delivered at pace alongside significant investment.
We can not afford for this to be delayed any longer as there is a real danger we will continue to see these offences spiral upwards if significant change doesn’t happen.
Through reform and investment, politicians can turn these figures around to ensure babies, children and young people don’t experience the scourge of abuse and neglect and, instead, can live safe, happy and healthy childhoods.”