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Ten calls a week referred to police and social services, NSPCC reveals

Published 13/10/2016

The NSPCC said the increase in calls showed the public was no longer willing to turn a blind eye
The NSPCC said the increase in calls showed the public was no longer willing to turn a blind eye

The NSPCC referred more than 10 calls a week to police and social services over the last year.

The charity reported a significant spike in the number of contacts about suspected abuse or neglect and said it showed members of the public were no longer willing to turn a blind eye.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: "People in Northern Ireland have become increasingly concerned and aware of the tell-tale signs of abuse and neglect in children and our helpline is an invaluable service for people worried about the safety of a young person."

Figures from the NSPCC's 24-hour helpline - where members of the public can report concerns about child safety - show 547 calls from Northern Ireland were passed on to external agencies during 2015/16 compared with 405 in 2012/13.

The number of contacts about neglect increased by 31% from 181 in 2012/13 to 238 last year while referrals raising physical abuse rose from 89 in 2012/13 to 120 in 2015/16 - a jump of 35%.

The number of calls passed on relating to emotional abuse was also up by 65% from 43 in 2012/13 to 71 in 2015/16.

Mr Wanless added: "It's a big decision to involve health and social care trusts or police and our counsellors will only act when there is genuine concern for the welfare of a child.

"But people who are worried, and feel they need to speak to someone, can be reassured they will be listened to and taken seriously."

Nationally, 33,333 of the helpline contacts were passed on in 2015/16 - nearly 100 a day - compared to 23,733 in 2012/13.

Mr Wanless said high profile cases had brought the issue of the child abuse to the forefront of people's minds.

He said: "These figures show that people here are more alive to the issues of child abuse following recent high profile scandals such as Savile and the ongoing Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry."

The free Helpline provides adults with advice and support, allows them to share concerns about a child or get general information about child protection.

Adults can contact the helpline on 0808 800 5000, by texting 88858 or visiting www.nspcc.org.uk.

The NSPCC recently launched its new Alfie advertising campaign aimed at raising awareness of what a child can achieve when freed from abuse.

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