Child cruelty and neglect across Norfolk and Suffolk up 153pc
PUBLISHED: 06:30 04 December 2018 | UPDATED: 10:25 04 December 2018
The number of children in Norfolk and Suffolk neglected, mistreated and assaulted at the hands of their parents has risen by 153pc in the last five years.
Damning figures, revealed by the NSPCC, show child cruelty and neglect crimes across the region have more than doubled since 2013.
Police in the east of England recorded 906 offences of child cruelty and neglect in 2017/18 - a 166pc increase from 340 in 2012/13.
The nature of the neglect varied but included extreme cases in which a parent or carer deliberately neglected, assaulted, abandoned or exposed their child to serious harm.
In Norfolk the number of recorded offences increased by 79pc, from 66 in 2012/13 to 120 in 2017/18.
While in Suffolk there were 129 recorded offences of child cruelty in 2017/18, rising by 545pc from 20 in 2012/13.
Across the UK there 17,000 incidents were reported to police and the NSPCC received almost 20,000 calls about children suffering neglect.
And now the charity has launched its Light for Every Childhood Christmas Appeal to raise awareness of child neglect - the most common type of abuse impacting children.
Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC, said: “It’s unclear exactly why the number of child neglect and cruelty offences has risen so dramatically, but greater public awareness and improvements in how police record offences could be factors, along with deeper societal issues.
“Whatever the reason for the increase in child neglect there is something we can all do about it now, we need to be aware of vulnerable children and be ready to report it to the NSPCC or the authorities if we are concerned for their safety or wellbeing.
“We are appealing to the generous nature of the public to support our Light For Every Childhood Christmas Appeal to help us be there for even more young people in need.”
The NSPCC Christmas Appeal is calling for donation to its helpline, which is open throughout the holidays, so it can be there for children suffering from neglect at Christmas and all year round.
To donate visit www.nspcc.org.uk
If you are concerned for the welfare of a child you contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Police praise victims for coming forward
Norfolk Police have said proactive work to spot signs of abuse along with the bravery of victims who choose to speak out is behind the rising figures of child cruelty and neglect.
Detective superintendent Andy Coller said: “Reports of neglect and child cruelty offences have increased in Norfolk since 2012. This will be as a result of partner agencies working better together to spot the signs of abuse, along with individuals having the confidence to come forward and report it.
“It is our priority to investigate such crimes, support victims and reduce vulnerability in our community. The issue of neglect has also been a priority of the Norfolk Safeguarding Children’s Board who have a strategy in place to specifically deal with this issue.
“The aim of the strategy is to raise awareness among those who are working with children to spot the signs of neglect and this will have resulted in an increase in reporting of these types of offences.”
Likewise Suffolk Police believe the figures showcase a rise reports rather than a rise in incidents.
A spokesman said: “We have invested more resource than ever before into child abuse investigations and have established strong partnership working practices across Suffolk with other partner agencies.
“Investigations into child abuse are very varied and complex and our response will see each case individually assessed and see us working with a number of agencies including the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub which involves police, county council, education and health, among others to address issues of risk of harm, abuse and neglect. We always put the victim at the centre of our approach.
“The constabulary continues to develop its approach in relation to children and young people through external engagement with other agencies and boards such as the Suffolk Local Safeguarding Children Board, Gangs and Youth Violence Board and the Suffolk Youth Offending Service and this partnership work is key to ensuring our focus is on the protection of children.”