Concerns about child cruelty and neglect offences in the UK are continuing to rise with police recorded offences increasing by 53 per cent in three years, new figures have revealed.

The NSPCC has reported a rise of seven per cent in recorded cases (141 to 151) in the Thames Valley between 2017-19 and 2019-20 in new analysis of police data.

During the months of the first lockdown alone, 36 such crimes were recorded in Thames Valley, the children’s charity said.

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That compares with 29 in the same period last year. This is despite overall crime falling across the UK during that period, the NSPCC added.

The analysis found there were 23,529 offences recorded by forces in 2019/20 across the country.

The charity has revealed the findings as part of a warning that children may be at risk of abuse this Christmas and that “everyone needs to play their part in keeping young people safe”.

It says over the last six months, it has been looking closely at the impact of lockdown – and its frontline teams are concerned that increased vulnerability, the challenges of safeguarding remotely and wider pressures on families may have increased the risks of abuse and neglect.

During the spring lockdown, an average of 50 children a day turned to Childline after suffering abuse, with counselling sessions about this issue increasing by 22 per cent compared with pre-lockdown levels, the charity found.

Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC, said: “The pandemic is the greatest challenge we’ve faced in decades and these figures are yet another example of its impact on vulnerable children.

“They also provide a heartbreaking picture of the concern about the number of young people who were exposed to pain and suffering following the start of the pandemic.

“This year it is even more essential that children have a place where they can seek help and support.

“Our Childline service will be running every day over the Christmas holidays, but we need the public’s support so we can ensure vulnerable children are heard.”

He added: “While not every police-recorded offence leads to a prosecution or child protection outcome, each represents a significant concern raised to the police about a child.”

Spotting the signs of abuse

Here are some of the signs the NSPCC says you can look out for if you suspect child abuse:

  • Untreated injuries, medical and dental issues
  • Repeated accidental injuries caused by lack of supervision
  • Recurring illnesses or infections
  • Faltering weight or growth, and not reaching developmental milestones
  • Poor language, communication or social skills
  • Have unwashed clothes
  • Have inadequate clothing, like not having a winter coat
  • Living in an unsuitable home environment – for example without adequate heating, or dog mess being left
  • Left alone for a long time
  • Taking on the role of carer for other family members

Adults concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC helpline seven days a week on 0808 800 5000, or email