03/08/2009

NSPCC Calls Rise After Death Of Baby P

More people are calling the NSPCC Helpline about serious child abuse since the death of Baby Peter two years ago.

Between April 2008 and March 2009, the 24-hour freephone service passed on 11,243 suspected child protection cases to police or social services - an increase of more than a third over two years.

Baby Peter died in August 2007 when he was 17 months old. In the year before his death, the NSPCC made 8,170 referrals; the following year the figure rose to 9,620.

More than one in three calls referred by the Helpline last year concerned families unknown to local agencies. The authorities took action to investigate and protect the children in nearly all of the cases.

Many of the calls were about children being physically assaulted, sexually abused or badly neglected. Most came from neighbours, relatives and friends of the family.

The number of child abuse calls continues to grow. In June the NSPCC Helpline referred over 1,000 calls to agencies, more than one an hour.

Christine Renouf, Director of Helpline Services said: "Fortunately people seem to be more aware of children who might be at risk of serious harm and are taking action to help them.

"The brutal torture and death of Baby Peter was terrible but we know it was a wake-up call for some people to look out for children. More than one in three of our suspected child protection cases involve families not known to local authorities. Among them there will be children saved by a phone call to our helpline.

"The increasing number of serious child abuse calls we are getting shows the continuing need for our helpline. But it’s also encouraging that so many people are now taking responsibility for stopping this abuse. It is becoming more and more difficult for child abusers to hide their crimes.

"It only takes a few seconds to dial our number and it could be the difference between life and death for a child.”

(CD/KMcA)

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