Reports of child abuse to the NSPCC rose by 37% in the 12 months to March, the charity has said.
Counsellors working on the charity’s helpline passed on 16,385 serious cases to police or social services, making the annual increase in referrals over the period the highest ever.
Nearly half (46%) of people who contacted the helpline last year reported concerns that had to be referred – up from 39% in the previous year.
John Cameron, head of the NSPCC helpline, said the rise showed the potential to ease pressure on social workers.
“Social workers cannot be in the community all the time, but members of the public can be their eyes and ears,” he said. “We must pick up on children’s problems as early as we can to stop their abuse.
“The increase in referrals over the past year shows more people want to play their part in keeping children safe. We refer only the most serious cases to local agencies for further investigation. More than one in three of these cases involve families previously unknown to local authorities.”
Last year, the helpline made 12,296 referrals about suspected child cruelty after being tipped off – up 4,588 (60%) on the previous year. Callers included parents, other family members, neighbours and professionals, such as teachers or health workers.
The biggest increase in referrals was for neglect, which jumped 81% to 6,438 cases. Neglect remains the top reason for people calling the helpline. The NSPCC also referred 4,113 cases of reported physical abuse, 1,520 cases of sexual abuse and 2,932 cases of emotional abuse.
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