Child cruelty and neglect offences rise by 45% in Hertfordshire in three years

Analysis of police figures reveals that recorded offences involving child cruelty and neglect have risen by more than half in the UK in three years

Wednesday, 2nd December 2020, 11:40 am
Updated Wednesday, 2nd December 2020, 11:44 am

Concerns about child cruelty and neglect offences are continuing to rise with police recorded offences increasing by 45% in Hertfordshire in three years, the NSPCC reports.

The charity has released new analysis of police data for the whole of the UK, which reveals that there were 23,529 offences recorded by forces in 2019/20.

In Hertfordshire, the number of child cruelty and neglect offences rose by 45% in the last three years, 117 offences have been logged in all from 2017/18, with 45 last year.

Stills from NSPCC Christmas appeal video (C) NSPCC

Although there are significant variations between different regions and nations, overall the analysis finds an increase of 53% compared to 2016/17, and more than double the total in 2013/14.

This NSPCC also examined the number of offences that took place in the first three months of the spring lockdown and found that 5,476 child cruelty and neglect offences were recorded by police from April 1, to June 30, this year.

Although a significant number, senior police have argued that this does not provide the full picture of what children may have experienced during those months.

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.

Detective Superintendent Mike Trotman, Head of Safeguarding Command at Hertfordshire Constabulary, said: “Addressing and preventing child neglect remains a key priority for us as a police force and we are committed to doing all we can to protect the county’s most vulnerable.

“The rise in reports can, in part, be attributed to improved recording processes and we continue to enhance the services that are available to children, young people and families in Hertfordshire.

“As part of this, the county’s Safeguarding Children Partnership is working with the NSPCC to develop a Neglect Strategy which will set out a partnership approach with the aim of tackling abuse at the earliest opportunity.

“The partnership’s work will also see the launch of a year-long campaign with a community-based approach, signposting families in need to the vital support available and reducing the overall impact on potential victims.

“The young victims of neglect need our support. Every child deserves to be loved and cared for, and Hertfordshire aspires to be a place where children not only feel safe but are nurtured and given the opportunities to flourish.”

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.

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 which depicts some of the heart-breaking abuse contacts the NSPCC run service Childline expects to take in the Christmas holidays.

Over the last six months the NSPCC has been looking closely 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.

As part of its new appeal, the charity is calling on the public to donate £20 to the NSPCC so that services like Childline can be here for children this Christmas.

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.”