Nottinghamshire Police have recorded over 1,300 child cruelty and neglect offences over the past six years, new figures have shown.
Nationally, there were 16,939 child cruelty and neglect offences recorded by police in 2017/18, up from 7,965 in 2012/13.
In Nottinghamshire, the number of offences recorded by police rose from 63 in 2012/13 to 351 in 2017/18.
Reports to the police included extreme cases of when a parent or carer deliberately neglected, assaulted, abandoned or exposed their child to serious harm.
The NSPCC has now launched its Light for Every Childhood Christmas appeal to raise awareness of child neglect - the most common type of abuse affecting children in the UK.
Last week Nottingham Council House lit up in the charity's trademark to show support for the appeal, with the Houses of Parliament and BT Towers following suit last night (Monday).
The amount of police offences is mirrored by the number of calls made to the NSPCC helpline – totalling 19,937 last year about children suffering neglect - with three quarters referred urgently to police or children’s services.
Detective Chief Inspector Peter Quinn, head of child protection for Nottinghamshire Police, said: “Child cruelty and neglect is a serious concern and I personally welcome this increase in the number of children being safeguarded.
“As a partnership we have worked hard to equip professionals, including Police Officers with the skills and knowledge necessary to identify risks to children at an early stage and ensure they get the care and support they need.
“I consider this increase to be evidence of improvements in our collective response to neglected children and hope it will encourage people to report any concern they may have for a child.”
One NSPCC helpline practitioner has spoken about a recent referral she made to the police.
Tracey Hamer, NSPCC helpline practitioner said: “The police went out to do a welfare check, and later told me that mum had been found unwell and violently vomiting and unable to care for her 3-year-old daughter.
“The house was in a state of disrepair and the kitchen worktops were covered in dirty crockery with mould on them. The washing machine was broken, and mum said that water would come up through the pipes when she tried to use it so she couldn’t clean any clothes."
Recorded police offences of this type reveal only a fraction of neglect cases, as social workers will step-in when parents cannot meet the needs of their child. They put a plan in place to prevent issues from escalating.
Last year there were 27,856 children in the UK on a child protection plan or register for concerns involving neglect.
The NSPCC Christmas Appeal is calling for donations to its helpline - which is open throughout the holidays – so it can be there for children suffering from neglect at Christmas and all year round.
Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC said: “It’s unclear exactly why the number of child neglect and cruelty offences has risen so dramatically, but greater public awareness and improvements in how police record offences could be factors, along with deeper societal issues.
“Whatever the reasons for the increase in child neglect there is something we can all do about it now, we need to be aware of vulnerable children and be ready to report it to the NSPCC or the authorities if we are concerned for their safety or wellbeing.
“We are appealing to the generous nature of the public to support our Light For Every Childhood Christmas Appeal to help us be there for even more young people in need.”
Just £5 pays for the helpline to answer a call about child neglect, to donate visit the NSPCC website.
Adults concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC helpline seven days a week on 0808 800 5000, or email firstname.lastname@example.org