Shocking new figures have revealed a dramatic increase in the number of child neglect cases reported to the police in west London.
The report, "How Safe Are Our Children?", exposed that 253 cases were referred by the children's charity to west London authorities in 2016.
This is an increase of 85% over five years when compared to 137 referrals in 2011 to 12, the charity said.
The west London borough of Hillingdon saw the biggest increase in referrals with 58 cases reported.
Nationally, the charity made 16,882 referrals to children’s services or the police last year, equivalent to 46 a day.
In total, there were 66,218 calls made to the NSPCC Helpline in 2016/17.
Child neglect was mentioned in more than a quarter of those calls.
In a statement, NSPCC stated the rise shows that "more people are willing to speak up about the issue".
However, the NSPCC said the full scale of the problem could be "much greater", particularly as social care in England faces "unprecedented pressures", the charity added.
Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO, 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.”
According to the NSPCC, a growing number of people contacting the Helpline described parents as having a problem with alcohol and drugs, with some of them regularly leaving their children unsupervised so they could go for a drink with friends.
A family memeber of a suspected neglected child told the NSPCC in a call: “I am concerned for the safety of a little boy.
"He does not seem to be getting adequate care at home.
"His mother does not seem interested in looking after him and let's 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.”
What is neglect?
According to the NSPCC, neglect happens when a child’s needs are not met and is down to several reasons, from parents not having the skills, support or funds, to having mental health issues.
How to identify a child who is being neglected
- Poor appearance and hygiene, they may be smelly or have unwashed clothes.
- Living in an unsuitable home environment, for example dog mess being left or not having any heating.
- Left alone for a long time.
- Untreated injuries, medical and dental issues; they may have skin sores, rashes, flea bites, scabies or ringworm.
- Poor language, communication or social skills.
- Seem hungry or turn up to school without having breakfast or any lunch money.
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