Sharp rise in child cruelty and neglect crimes in Bedfordshire

Bedfordshire Police recorded 43 neglect and child cruelty offences last year, compared to seven in 2013/14.

The NSPCC reports that recorded child cruelty and neglect offences in the UK continue to soar with crimes increasing by nearly a fifth in the last year alone.

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The charity has analysed police data for the whole of the UK over the last five years and found child cruelty and neglect offences have risen every year.

In Bedfordshire it is six times higher than five years ago.

To raise awareness of child neglect and abuse the NSPCC has launched its Light For Every Childhood Christmas Appeal.

Nationally, there were 20,024 child cruelty and neglect offences recorded by police in 2018/19, which has more than doubled since 2013/14 where there were 9,518 crimes of this nature.

Reports to police included extreme cases of when parents or carers deliberately neglected, assaulted, abandoned or exposed their child to serious harm and unnecessary suffering.

The NSPCC Christmas Appeal is calling for donations so it can be there for children suffering from neglect and abuse at Christmas and all year round.

The charity’s Childline service is the only service there for children 24/7 during the upcoming festive period, but it needs support for 2020 and beyond.

Last night (Tuesday), Battersea Power Station became the latest iconic UK landmark to show their support for the campaign by lighting up in the charity’s trademark green.

There are several potential reasons for the rise in child cruelty and neglect crimes, from better police recording, increasing pressure on families and cuts in funding making it harder for local authorities to offer early intervention services that tackle the causes of neglect.

In addition, recorded police offences of this type don’t reveal the full picture of neglect in the UK, because local authorities will step in before many of these cases are reported as a crime.

In 2017/18 there were 29,113 children in the UK on a child protection plan or register for concerns involving neglect.

Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC said: “To see year after year the number of neglect and cruelty offences rise so dramatically is disturbing.

"Greater public awareness and improvements in police recording could be factors in this continuous increase, but deeper societal issues such as increasing pressure on parents and a lack of investment in early intervention services, are leaving more children vulnerable and exposed to pain and suffering.

“Whatever the reasons for the rise cruelty to children is never ok, it is vital that children always have a place they can go to seek help and support, day and night.

"Childline never stops and never sleeps, but for this to continue we need the public’s support and to back our ‘Light for Every Childhood’ Appeal.”

A donation of £3 pays for Childline to answer a call with a neglected or abused child, to donate visit the NSPCC website.