Child cruelty and neglect offences in West Midlands soars by 62 per cent in five years
Offences of adults neglecting, mistreating or assaulting children recorded by West Midlands Police have increased by 62 per cent over the last five years, the NSPCC has found.
The charity's analysis of Freedom of Information data from West Midlands Police found that there were 4,778 offences of child cruelty recorded between April 2017 and March 2018 compared with 7,724 between April 2022 and March 2023.
Across England, of the police forces that provided data over the last five years and could be directly compared, cases had doubled, with 29,405 offences recorded between April 2022 and March 2023 compared with 14,263 offences recorded between April 2017 and March 2018.
The child protection system has been under substantial pressure over the last few years, particularly since the coronavirus pandemic.
Likewise, Childline counsellors hear directly from children about the impact that abuse and neglect is having on their lives.
The NSPCC is calling on the Government to accelerate its plans to reform the child protection system and ensure that practitioners across agencies 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 spiralling costs and high demand.
England’s largest councils have reported that they are overspending on their budgets by over £600m due to ‘uncontrollable’ spending pressures driving up the cost of delivering services to vulnerable children.
The NSPCC says this is straining the child protection system and is leaving those who work with families unequipped to adequately respond when things reach crisis point.
That is why, alongside Barnardo’s, Action for Children, The Children’s Society and The National Children’s Bureau, the NSPCC is asking politicians to commit to wholesale reform of children’s social care, backed by significant investment in early intervention and prevention, to improve the lives of babies, children and young people.
Sir Peter Wanless, CEO at the NSPCC, 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 cannot 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”.
The charity is also asking the public to look out for the wellbeing of children and young people they may know and to contact the NSPCC helpline with any concerns.
Last year the NSPCC Helpline handled almost 40,000 contacts from adults concerned about the wellbeing of a child due to them being exposed to or experiencing abuse or neglect.
Contact the NSPCC helpline at email@example.com or by calling 0808 800 5000.
Children can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or childline.org.uk.