Education & Family

Serious NSPCC cases jump in wake of Savile scandal

boy under bed Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Since the Savile scandal, the NSPCC has seen a significant rise in calls serious enough to refer on

"She looked unhappy and was very dishevelled. She had dirt on her bare legs - it was a build-up of dirt and she looked like she hadn't been washed in a while."

Brad, a telephone engineer from Gateshead, was shocked when he realised a toddler was living in filthy conditions in a house where he was installing satellite television.

The NSPCC says he is one of a growing number of people calling its helpline to raise concerns.

"There were empty pizza boxes and beer cans on the floor, food with mould growing on it and cat excrement everywhere.

"The place was full of flies and there was that much rubbish that I was wading through it and I had to clear a space to put my toolbox down."

The NSPCC says that since the Savile scandal unravelled, it has seen a significant rise in the number of contacts serious enough to refer on to the police or to local children's services.

In 2012-13, it passed on 23,733 cases, but this rose to 33,333 in 2015-16 - up 9,600.

The charity's figures show:

  • in the same period, referrals after members of the public reported neglect of a child rose from 9,803 to 14,169
  • referrals because of physical abuse rose went up from 5,783 to 8,401
  • in the past two years the helpline has referred 507 reports of slavery to local authorities.

The NSPCC says the figures reflect an increasing refusal for the public to turn a blind eye when it comes to the welfare of children - and a growing demand for advice and action to prevent child abuse.

Brad adds: "By the look of the place, they hadn't had visitors in a while and I was worried that if I didn't get the girl help, no-one else would see how she was living.

"I couldn't have had it on my conscience if I hadn't done anything."

In this case, the NSPCC contacted the police, who worked with children's services to remove the toddler from her unsafe surroundings.

She went to live with her grandmother until things had changed at home and it was safe for her to return.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The NSPCC says the public is more aware of the welfare of children

'Shouting and swearing'

An NSPCC helpline counsellor describes a call from a neighbour who was worried about children living next door.

"The caller often heard the children crying and screaming over long periods of time with its parents not responding.

"The caller has also heard the children's mum shouting and swearing at her children and loud thumping and banging.

"The caller is concerned that the children are being neglected. The NSPCC referred the case to children's services and local police for a welfare check on the children."

NSPCC chief Peter Wanless said: "These figures reveal a nation that is more alive to the issues of child abuse following recent high-profile scandals and the ongoing investigation into non-recent child abuse.

"They have become increasingly concerned and aware of the telltale signs of abuse and neglect in children and our helpline is an invaluable service for people worried about the safety of a young person.

"But when people are worried, and feel they need to speak to someone, they can be reassured they will be listened to and taken seriously."

The NSPCC's helpline is 0808 800 5000.

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