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6,000 child abuse allegations in Sandwell in five years

More than 6,000 child abuse allegations have been made in a Black Country borough over the past five years, it has been revealed.

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Figures showed social services dealt with hundreds of cases every year since 2012.

A total of 6,226 allegations were referred to Sandwell Council's social services team up to 2016 - an average of three every day.

Council bosses said the number of children being 'abused and neglected' was rising in Sandwell but insisted it was not a problem restricted solely to the borough.

The NSPCC said every allegation of abuse needed to be taken seriously.

Sandwell Council leader Steve Eling admitted it was a 'worrying situation' and called for Government intervention on the issue.

Child abuse has been back in the national spotlight this month following the conviction of 18 people who were part of a child sex ring in Newcastle.

Councillor Eling said: “These are some of the most difficult and sensitive matters that we have as a council have to deal with.

“Over the last few years we have seen increasing numbers of children being neglected and abused. There are now more children in Sandwell who are subject to Child Protection Plans than we have ever had before.

“This is a national issue and Sandwell like many authorities are having to commit more resources than we have ever had to in the past."

"There is a serious social policy breakdown which needs a needs a national policy intervention to reverse this worrying situation. Just taking more and more children into care cannot be the answer.

“As a council our number one priority is to ensure that children are safe. We work closely with other agencies to ensure that this happens.”

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “Any allegation that a child has been abused must be taken seriously and dealt with sensitively and promptly.

“Abuse can happen to any child from any background and the general public have an integral role to play in spotting the signs and reporting concerns.

“We would urge anyone concerned about a child’s welfare to contact the NSPCC’s 24/7 Helpline on 0808 800 5000.

"Callers can remain anonymous and should not wait until they’re absolutely certain something is wrong - sharing your suspicion could prevent a child from harm. Our trained counsellors will listen to your concerns and can take action if a child is in danger."