Child Cruelty And Neglect On Rise Warns NSPCC (Part One)

Child cruelty and neglect crimes in Northern Ireland rise says NSPCC.

Child cruelty and neglect crimes in Northern Ireland rise says NSPCC.

  • 23,529 concerns across the UK of adults neglecting, mistreating or assaulting children in last year, including 605 from Northern Ireland
  • The NSPCC has launched its Here for Children Christmas Appeal and a new TV ad to raise awareness of abuse and neglect this Christmas
  • Buildings across Northern Ireland will support the NSPCC in December by turning green, the charity’s colour.

Child cruelty and neglect offences recorded by the PSNI in Northern Ireland are continuing to rise, with crimes increasing by a staggering 22% in the last year alone, the NSPCC can reveal.

The charity is today releasing new analysis of police data for the whole of the UK, which reveals trends showing there were 23,529 offences recorded by forces and police services in 2019/20.

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.

In Northern Ireland, in 2019/20, there were 605 offences which is more than three times the total in 2013/14 which was 184.

Children should be safe, happy and content: the NSPCC is concerned about the big rise in child cruelty and neglect in the past year.

The 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, across the UK,  from 1st April 1 to 30th June this year. In Northern Ireland, where the PSNI provided data to the NSPCC on request, during the same period there were 109 offences.

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.

The NSPCC has issued the findings as part of a warning that more 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 buildings across Northern Ireland* 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.

During the spring lockdown, an average of 50 children a day from across the UK turned to Childline after suffering abuse, with counselling sessions about this issue increasing by 22% compared with pre-lockdown levels.

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.

Everyone has a role to play in keeping children safe. The charity is reminding adults that if they have concerns about a child’s welfare they can call the NSPCC helpline.

The NSPCC is also urging the UK 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.”

Spotting the signs of abuse

The NSPCC is encouraging the public to look out for signs of abuse and speak up if they are concerned about a child.

Signs of abuse and neglect to look out for can include:

  • Untreated injuries, medical and dental issues
  • Repeated accidental injuries caused by lack of supervision
  • Recurring illnesses or infections
  • Faltering weight or growth, and not reaching developmental milestones
  • Poor language, communication or social skills
  • Have unwashed clothes
  • Have inadequate clothing, like not having a winter coat
  • Living in an unsuitable home environment – for example without adequate heating, or dog mess being left
  • Left alone for a long time
  • Taking on the role of carer for other family members

Adults concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC helpline seven days a week on 0808 800 5000, or email: