Most English local authorities do not have systems in place to identify how many children are being neglected, according to research by Action for Children.
Freedom of Information requests carried out by the charity found that 48 councils of 79 authorities that responded had no data collection system for counting the number of neglected children. Of the rest 25 had systems in place and 6 were beginning to bring in new strategies.
The charity also found that most of the authorities without data collection systems do not have plans for gathering figures on the scale of neglect beyond counting the number of children already receiving help from social services.
Action for Children said it was “unacceptable” that so many councils did not record this information and that “without a joined-up, holistic view, children will slip through the net”.
Tony Hawkhead, chief executive of the charity, said: “The tragedy is that due to a lack of gathering the right information, children whose lives could be improved are needlessly put at further risk.
“Families need help as early as possible so they can make positive changes in their lives, transforming their and their children’s stories by being the best parents they can be.”
The Department for Education has said that neglect is the most prominent form of child abuse and features in 60% of serious case reviews into the death or serious injury of a child.