THE NUMBER of children in the county who refer themselves to the state for protection has risen by well over 200 per cent under lockdown when compared to the same period in 2019.

Youngsters contacting Buckinghamshire Council children’s services under lockdown surged by 234 per cent in August 2020, when compared with the same month the previous year.

The shocking revelation emerged during a cabinet meeting, on Tuesday, September 8, when councillors met to endorse the Safer Buckinghamshire Plan 2020-23.

It is also understood there has been a more than 70 per cent increase in child referrals to the same service for the same period, more generally.

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Cllr Anita Cranmer, cabinet member for education and skills, raised the “major issue” of mental health impacting people during lockdown, saying: “Particularly in our young people who have not been at school, have not been interacting socially, and many of them have been in very poor circumstances at home and subject to domestic abuse which has most definitely risen.

“I’ve heard statistics that we have 200 per cent more cases this year than we did at this time last year.”

Cllr Cranmer requested from cabinet an “action plan” to tackle some of the casualties of the lockdown. Adding: “It will take three years…or five years, indeed, for us to get through the quite severe results that we are beginning to face.”

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Mark Shaw, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has and will continue to have an impact on the lives of residents in communities across the country.

“Locally there has been some marked increases in referrals to children’s social care. For example, there has been a 71 per cent increase in referrals in August 2020, when compared with August 2019.

“Within this there has been an increase in individuals seeking help for themselves. This increase expressed as a percentage is 234 per cent when compared with August last year.

“Pressures created by Covid-19 impact upon adults and children in many different ways and no section of our community is exempt from this possibility.”

The primary function of the Safer Buckinghamshire Plan 2020-23 is to maintain community safety through close assessment of criminal activity in the county and its causes, while also identifying “emerging trends and issues”.