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Charity warns of increase in child cruelty and neglect offences recorded by police in Suffolk as it launches appeal to support young people at Christmas



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The number of child cruelty and neglect offences recorded by police in Suffolk has increased by 40 per cent in one year, according to new statistics.

The analysis of the data, which shows that 139 offences were reported to police in 2019/20, up from 99 in 2018/29, has been released by children's charity the NSPCC.

The charity said concerns about child cruelty and neglect are continuing to rise, with police recorded offences having increased by 53 per cent in the UK as a whole over three years.

The number of child cruelty and neglect offences recorded by police in Suffolk has increased by 40 per cent in one year, according to new statistics
The number of child cruelty and neglect offences recorded by police in Suffolk has increased by 40 per cent in one year, according to new statistics

A total of 23,529 offences were reported to police across the UK in 2019/20 – up from 15,412 in 2016/17 and just 9,518 in 2013/14.

In Suffolk, there has been a similar upward trend, from just 53 in 2013/14 to 139 in 2019/20 – although there was a drop from 135 in 2017/18 to 99 in 2018/19.

Since 2013/14, 678 offences have been logged with police in the county in total.

The charity said concerns about child cruelty and neglect are continuing to rise, with police recorded offences having increased by 53 per cent in the UK as a whole over three years
The charity said concerns about child cruelty and neglect are continuing to rise, with police recorded offences having increased by 53 per cent in the UK as a whole over three years

During the months of the first lockdown alone, 65 child cruelty and neglect offences were recorded in Suffolk. That compares with just eight in the same period last year.

This is despite overall crime falling across the UK during that period.

While not every police-recorded offence leads to a prosecution or child protection outcome, each represents a significant concern raised to the police about a child.

The NSPCC has issued the findings as part of a warning that children may be at risk of abuse this Christmas and that everyone needs to play their part in keeping young people safe.

The NSPCC is launching its Here for Children Christmas Appeal. Picture: NSPCC (43369015)
The NSPCC is launching its Here for Children Christmas Appeal. Picture: NSPCC (43369015)

To raise awareness of child neglect and abuse this Christmas, a number of iconic UK landmarks including Battersea Power Station will turn green from December 7 supporting the NSPCC’s Here for Children Christmas Appeal.

The charity has also launched a new TV appeal as part of the campaign.

Over the last six months the NSPCC has been looking at the impact of lockdown – and its frontline teams are concerned that increased vulnerability, the challenges of safeguarding remotely and wider pressures on families may have increased the risks of abuse and neglect.

During the spring lockdown, an average of 50 children a day turned to Childline after suffering abuse, with counselling sessions about this issue increasing by 22 per cent compared with pre-lockdown levels.

As part of its new appeal, the charity is asking for donations so that services like Childline can be here for children this Christmas.

The charity also wants to remind adults that if they have concerns about a child’s welfare they can call the NSPCC helpline.

The NSPCC is also urging the Government to ensure that a comprehensive recovery plan is put in place that sees children get the help they need in the short and long term, including investment in support for victims before, during and after the criminal justice process.

Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC said: “The pandemic is the greatest challenge we’ve faced in decades and these figures are yet another example of its impact on vulnerable children. They also provide a heart-breaking picture of the concern about the number of young people who were exposed to pain and suffering following the start of the pandemic.

“This year it is even more essential that children have a place where they can seek help and support. Our Childline service will be running every day over the Christmas holidays, but we need the public’s support so we can ensure vulnerable children are heard.”

The NSPCC is encouraging the public to look out for signs of abuse and speak up if they are concerned about a child.

Signs of abuse and neglect to look out for can include:

  • Untreated injuries, medical and dental issues
  • Repeated accidental injuries caused by lack of supervision
  • Recurring illnesses or infections
  • Faltering weight or growth, and not reaching developmental milestones
  • Poor language, communication or social skills
  • Have unwashed clothes
  • Have inadequate clothing, like not having a winter coat
  • Living in an unsuitable home environment – for example without adequate heating, or dog mess being left
  • Left alone for a long time
  • Taking on the role of carer for other family members

Adults concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC helpline seven days a week on 0808 800 5000, or email help@nspcc.org.uk.

To get the latest updates in ongoing cases, police appeals and criminals put behind bars, click here

Read more: All the latest news from Suffolk