More than one in three social workers and police officers have felt powerless to intervene in cases of suspected child neglect, a survey has found.
Half said earlier intervention was needed to ensure cases of possible neglect are dealt with more effectively, according to research for the charity Action for Children.
Some 41% of the professionals said they were under greater pressure now to intervene when children are being neglected than five years ago and 16% reported encountering more cases than last year.
For 29%, the main reason they were powerless to act on a suspected example of abuse was the fact that the case did not meet the threshold for social work intervention.
The police and social workers interviewed for the survey said they wanted to be able to spend more time with families and less on paperwork (57%), to have more staff and see more vacancies filled (49%) and to have more time (41%).
Action for Children said neglect was the most common reason for children to be placed under a child protection plan, ahead of both physical and sexual abuse.
The charity's chief executive, Dame Clare Tickell, called on the new coalition Government to recognise the importance of early intervention in tackling the problem.
She said: "It's a real concern that frontline professionals are telling us not only that they are seeing more cases of neglect, but feel they can't intervene as soon as possible.
"We rely on frontline professionals to identify cases of neglect and work with others to give families the help they need - but only when these barriers are removed can they protect the most vulnerable and neglected young people and children."
YouGov carried out an online survey of 490 police officers and social workers who have contact with children aged under 18 in the UK.