Wales

NSPCC expresses concern over child neglect calls

A rise in the number of calls to a charity about child neglect has been called a "worrying trend".

Around 35 children suffering from neglect are helped by the NSPCC helpline in Wales each month, with many referred to social services or police.

The percentage of neglect referrals from its helpline was higher in Wales than elsewhere, said the charity.

The NSPCC added that more people than ever were getting in contact about the issue.

A recent NSPCC study found that around one in 10 of those aged 11 to 17 years had experienced neglect at some time in their lives.

In 2012/13 the charity's helpline dealt with 450 child neglect cases in Wales which were serious enough to be referred to social services or police.

The charity said the increase in calls could partly be explained by the public being more willing to speak out, but it was a "worrying trend".

"The Welsh government, in its recent consultation about the proposed Social Services Bill, stated that social services cannot be sustainable without delivering more early intervention," said Des Mannion, NSPCC national head of service for Wales.

"But a recent NSPCC survey shows that professionals feel that neglected children do not receive timely action or the help that they need.

"We're pleased therefore to be working with the Welsh government and Action for Children on ways to improve the ways in which, from a professional perspective, neglected children receive the help they need."

'Key issue'

Meanwhile Bridgend council is joining forces with the NSPCC to encourage local people to report child welfare concerns.

A campaign is being launched at a conference on Tuesday aimed at child protection specialists from the Bridgend area.

The Welsh government said raising awareness of child abuse was a "key issue" and it welcomed the NSPCC and Bridgend council working together.

"Safeguarding is a priority for the Welsh government, and the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill sets out a range of measures to strengthen safeguarding and protection arrangements," said a spokesperson.

"Over the last year a consolidated programme of work has been put in place through legislation and guidance to strengthen arrangements to protect vulnerable people of all ages in Wales.

"We recognise that child neglect is a significant issue and the Welsh government is working with the NSPCC and Action for Children to develop a national response to the debilitating and damaging impact of childhood neglect."

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