CHILD cruelty and neglect offences in the South West increased by nearly a quarter last year as the country emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic, the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children has revealed.

In a Freedom of Information requests to Avon and Somerset Police, Devon and Cornwall Police, Dorset Police, Gloucestershire Constabulary and Wiltshire Police found there were 2,985 offences recorded in 2021/22 – an average of eight a day - a 23 per cent rise from last year.

Across the UK, there were 25,617 offences recorded in 2021/22 – an average of 70 a day and up 25 per cent from the previous year.

Compared to other South West counties, Wiltshire’s child cruelty and neglect offences rate is relatively low. The NSPCC figures show 55 cases in 2021/22, 45 in 2020/21 and 60 cases in 2019/20.

 

 

Total number of cruelty to children/young persons offences

 

Force

2019/20

2020/21

2021/22

Total

Avon and Somerset

779

711

948

2438

Devon and Cornwall

441

460

475

1376

Dorset

606

674

699

1979

Gloucestershire

604

531

808

1943

Wiltshire

60

45

55

160

 

NSPCC chief executive Sir Peter Wanless said: “The statistics we have released today demonstrate the worrying scale of abuse and neglect. This must be a priority for the Government.

“The evidence from a series of reviews have shown where and how to better resource and support a child protection system that works better for all those who need it. Now is the time for action.

“But our message isn’t just for politicians. It’s vital to remember that child abuse can be prevented. As thousands of people get behind Childhood Day today, they demonstrate their support for positive change and their willingness to play a part in keeping children safe.”

The charity is highlighting the worrying scale of the problem on its flagship ‘Childhood Day’, and two weeks on from the publication of the Independent Review into Children’s Social Care and the National Review into the deaths of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson.

The NSPCC is urging anyone with concerns about a child to contact the NSPCC helpline to speak to one of the charity’s professionals. People can call 0808 800 5000, email help@nspcc.org.uk or fill in the online form.