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More kids in danger across North Yorkshire


6:59am 11th June 2012


The NSPCC is warning that a sharp increase in reports of neglect cases will place additional pressure on already stretched children’s services. 


The warning comes as new figures released by the charity today (11 June) show that reports to its helpline about neglect have doubled over the past two years to reach record levels.


Last year (April 2011 to March 2012), trained NSPCC counsellors working on the 24-hour freephone (0808 800 5000) service dealt with over 12,000 contacts from people across the UK about neglect, of which 1,056 were from Yorkshire and the Humber. The UK-wide figure is the biggest number of reports about neglect yet recorded by the charity’s helpline.1


The latest NSPCC helpline report shows there were twice as many calls and emails to the charity about neglect as in 2009/10 and is up by a third in the last year alone.


Of the 1,056 contacts from Yorkshire and the Humber, 827 were so serious they required the involvement of police or children’s services, a 22% increase on contacts referred out the previous year.  Of these, 73 were from North Yorkshire. In other cases helpline counsellors provided advice, support and information to callers.


Callers to the NSPCC helpline described children going hungry and begging neighbours for food. Others were worried about children left home alone or outside in the cold for hours on end, or children whose parents had drink or drug addictions.


The rise in reports of neglect to the NSPCC comes as local children's services face unprecedented pressures, with more children being taken into care, and more families needing help at a time of significant funding cuts. 


Last year 163 children from North Yorkshire and 60 from York were subject to child protection plans because they were at risk of harm from neglect.2 And recent statistics from CAFCASS, the organisation that represents children in care cases, revealed that in 2011/12 the total number of care applications for all reasons topped 10,000 for the first time.3


The NSPCC is testing a with local authorities to find out what is most effective in identifying, preventing and tackling neglect quickly. The charity is also working with social workers and other professionals to find out what extra support and training they need. This research includes a survey in partnership with Community Care and the NSPCC is urging professionals working with neglect cases to take part.


Gordon Ratcliffe,NSPCC head of region in Yorkshire and the Humber, said:


“More people than ever are contacting the NSPCC about child neglect. Some of this will be down to the public being more willing to speak out - and this can only be a positive thing - but there is clearly a worrying trend, not just in our figures, but from a range of agencies and bodies. More research is needed on why this sharp increase has occurred.


“Professor Eileen Munro highlighted in her review of social work the importance of acting quickly to tackle neglect, before problems spiral out of control.4 But social workers tell us they need better tools and training to help them identify and tackle neglect earlier. And parents need access to support to help them to change their neglectful behaviour. If we are to tackle this growing problem, these two issues must be addressed.


Calls to the NSPCC reveal the stark reality of children’s suffering behind the statistics. One Leeds resident called the NSPCC worried about a six year old. The child plays outdoors unsupervised where she can’t be seen by her mother, and is often not dressed properly. The mother doesn’t seem concerned about this at all. Their home is dirty, smelly and messy with ‘clothes, toys and everything all over the floor’.


Gordon Ratcliffe continued:


“The NSPCC is working closely with professionals and local government across the UK to find out the best ways to identify and tackle neglect before it ruins children’s lives. And we want the public to keep raising the alarm so families can be supported to prevent more children suffering the devastating consequences of neglect.


“Obviously if families will not or cannot improve, children must be protected and taken into care. But our experience shows that with the right support many families can improve their behaviour. The costs in both financial and human terms for supporting families to change are far lower than the costs of taking children into care.”


The NSPCC’s neglect programmes include:


Improving Parenting, Improving Practice (IPIP), which is being delivered by the NSPCC in Sheffield and Hull.  This programme tackles child neglect by supporting and challenging parents who are struggling to care for their children.


Graded Care Profile which is being deliver by the NSPCC in Bradford. This isanational evaluation of a tool to assess the care of children and identify potential and actual child neglect


One family that the NSPCC worked with in Yorkshire & the Humber were a couple with three children under the age of six.  When the NSPCC came to take a look at the care of the children, one of the children, who was a toddler, was found in a cold, wet, urine-soaked bed in a dark room without heating or light. The children were dirty and there was not enough food in the house. The children’s parents weren’t coping too well.  The NSPCC worked with social workers from the Local Authority to make the children subject to Child Protection Plans and the parents are now getting the support they need to keep their children safer.


Anyone who thinks a child is being neglected, or suffering any kind of abuse, shouldn’t wait until they are certain there’s a problem. Contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, email help@nspcc.org.uk or report online click here or contact your local authority children’s service.


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