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Charity highlights five-fold increase in cases of child neglect and cruelty

Cases of child neglect and cruelty have risen by more than 500% in Suffolk over the last five years (stock photo)  Picture: GETTY IMAGES/iSTOCKPHOTO

Cases of child neglect and cruelty have risen by more than 500% in Suffolk over the last five years (stock photo) Picture: GETTY IMAGES/iSTOCKPHOTO

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Cases of child cruelty and neglect increased five times in as many years across Suffolk, according to the NSPCC.

Police recorded 129 offences in 2017/18, including mistreatment and assault, compared to just 20 in 2012/13, the charity revealed.

More cases were recorded locally than in Norfolk and Essex, which both saw sharp, but less significant increases in that time.

Across the region, 906 cases were recorded in 17/18 compared to 340 in 12/13 up 166%.

Nationally, police logged 16,939 cases last year – more than double the 7,965 recorded five years ago.

The NSPCC has launched its ‘Light for Every Childhood’ Christmas appeal to raise awareness of child neglect – the most common type of abuse affecting children in the UK as helpline practitioners revealed the number of offences mirrored the volume of calls they receive approaching 20,000 last year, with three quarters referred urgently to police or children’s services.

Recorded offences revealed only a fraction of the bigger picture, said the NSPCC, as social workers step in when parents fail to meet the a child’s needs putting plans in place to prevent issues from escalating. Last year, 27,856 UK children were on a protection plan or register for concerns.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said: “It’s unclear exactly why the number of child neglect and cruelty offences has risen so dramatically, but greater public awareness and improvements in how police record offences could be factors, along with deeper societal issues.

“We need to be aware of vulnerable children and be ready to report it to the NSPCC or the authorities if we are concerned for their safety or wellbeing.”

Suffolk police said it had invested more resources than ever into child abuse investigations and had strong working practices with partner agencies.

“Investigations into child abuse are very varied and complex, and our response will see each case individually assessed and see us working with a number of agencies, including the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub, which involves police, county council, education and health, among others, to address issues of risk of harm, abuse and neglect,” said a spokesman.

“We always put the victim at the centre of our approach.”

Adults concerned about a child can reach the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 email help@nspcc.org.uk.

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