NSPCC refers more than 700 cases of child neglect to authorities in Suffolk and Essex

NSPCC bosses say neglect can have 'severe and long-lasting consequences for children'

NSPCC bosses say neglect can have 'severe and long-lasting consequences for children'

A charity is experiencing huge increases in reports of child neglect across Suffolk and Essex, it has been revealed.

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) is calling on the Government to commission a prevalence study in order to gauge the true scale of the issue across the UK.

In 2016-17, the charity referred 235 cases of suspected child neglect to police and social services in Suffolk, up 41% on the previous year, while it passed on 516 reports to authorities in Essex – the highest annual number on record in the county.

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC said: “Neglect can have severe and long-lasting consequences for children, and can also be an indicator of other forms of abuse. This is why it is so important for anyone suspecting a child of being neglected to contact the NSPCC Helpline, so we can alert the authorities to quickly step in and help those in need.

“At the same time, it is vital we understand the true nature and scale of child neglect in the UK so we can collectively tackle the fundamental causes. Therefore, a Government commissioned, nationwide prevalence study on child abuse and neglect needs to be conducted, and sooner rather than later.”

Across the UK, NSPCC made 16,882 referrals to children’s services or police in 2016-17, equivalent to 46 a day.

The charity says a growing number of people contacting the NSPCC Helpline describe parents as having a problem with alcohol and drugs.

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One neighbour told Helpline staff: “The children are home alone again; I saw the mother leave the house earlier this morning and it’s past midnight now. I’ve seen the children peer through the curtains a few times as if they’re waiting for her. She does this every Friday night to go out drinking with her mates. I’m really confused about what to do as I don’t want to ruin the relationship with the mother as we are neighbours but at the same time I am really worried about the children. What should I do?”

While a family member of a suspected neglected child reported: “I am concerned for the safety of a little boy; he does not seem to be getting adequate care at home. His mother doesn’t seem interested in looking after him and lets him stay up all night; she has alcohol and drug abuse problems. He is regularly being left unsupervised and I am worried that he could seriously hurt himself at home alone, because I know it has happened before.”

Adults can contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000, or help@nspcc.org.uk

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