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Child Neglect Cases with Social Services

Posted on 02nd April 2024 in Family Law

Posted by

Mark Williams

Partner and Solicitor
Child Neglect Cases with Social Services

What is Child Neglect?

Neglect is when a caregiver fails to meet a child’s basic physical and psychological needs. Neglect can have severe and lasting consequences, potentially leading to serious harm or even death.

Statistics and Insights

  • Neglect is the most common form of child abuse. Shockingly, approximately 1 in 10 children in the UK has experienced neglect.
  • Recognising neglect can be challenging. Adults in a child’s life may not always notice the signs, and the child may not fully grasp their own circumstances.
  • One way to gauge the scale of neglect is by examining the number of children on Child Protection Plans or Child Protection Registers. In the UK, over 27,500 children were subject to such plans or registers due to neglect in 2021/2022.

Police Records and Child Cruelty Offences

Surprisingly, there is no specific legal offence called “child neglect” in the UK. Instead, the closest indicator is the category of “cruelty to children/young persons.” This encompasses cases where parents or caregivers intentionally harm, mistreat, neglect, abandon, or expose a child under 16 to unnecessary suffering or injury to health.

Police records reveal an alarming trend. The number of recorded child cruelty offences has risen significantly across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales. For instance, in 2017/2018, there were 15,575 reported cases compared to 32,299 cases in 2022/2023.

The Role of the NSPCC Helpline

The NSPCC helpline received a total of 59,282 contacts from concerned individuals in 2022/2023. Of these, 11,492 related specifically to concerns about neglect. Despite its prevalence, neglect may not always be as apparent as other forms of abuse, such as sexual abuse or physical harm.

Challenges Faced by Social Services

Social Services in areas like Torbay, Devon, Plymouth, Cornwall, and Somerset continue to grapple with high caseloads related to child welfare. Many cases still end up in court or are subject to the Public Law Outline and Child Protection Planning.

How can Tozers assist?

Tozers have a very experienced team of family law solicitors, well versed in child protection and skilled in supporting the parents in facing investigation by a Social Services team.

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