A sharp rise in child welfare referrals being made from the NSPCC helpline to external agencies such as the Police or children’s services in the South East in the last year – against the backdrop of the pandemic – has been revealed by the child protection charity.

There were 7,147 referrals made by the helpline to external agencies in the South East in 2020/21 – a 36% increase compared to 2019/20 when there were 5,262 referrals. Referrals are made when concerns reported to the helpline are considered serious enough to warrant further investigation.

The top reasons for referrals being made go unchanged, with concerns relating to parental and adult health and behaviour leading to 2,364 referrals to South East-based agencies. This includes worries about parental alcohol and substance misuse, domestic abuse and parental mental health.

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Sir Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO, said:

“We’ve been hearing first-hand about the immense pressures families have faced during the pandemic and the heavy toll that has taken on children and young people. For some children, this has included experiencing abuse, bereavement and other harm.

“The record number of contacts to our helpline reinforces the need for Governments across the UK to put children at the heart of their recovery plans. These must go beyond education and address the harm some have experienced so the pandemic doesn’t leave a legacy of trauma for children.

“But this isn’t just a job for our Governments. Everyone has to play their part in keeping children safe. And that’s why we’re planning Childhood Day on 11 June when we’ll celebrate childhood and encourage people to get involved in making sure all children grow up happy and safe.”

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