Child cruelty offences increase by a third in Northern Ireland

PSNI figures reveal there were 681 reported offences recorded in 2021/22, a 35% rise from the previous year.

(Jon Challicom/NSPCC/PA)
(Jon Challicom/NSPCC/PA)

The number of child cruelty and neglect offences in Northern Ireland has increased by a third in a year, police figures indicate.

There were 681 such offences reported in 2021/22, an average of two a day, up from 506 in 2020/21.

Of the 681, 255 were recorded as involving a child aged six or younger, 253 involved a child aged six to 10, and 173 involved a child aged between 11 and 15, according to Police Service of Northern Ireland figures.

The figures are incidents which were reported to the PSNI and confirmed as an offence. Some will go on to become a charge and some to prosecution.

NSPCC Northern Ireland released the figures on Friday, Childhood Day, to highlight the importance of everyone playing their part in keeping children safe.

The charity has urged that vulnerable children are prioritised, adding that a functioning Stormont executive is urgently needed to make sure this happens.

NSPCC Northern Ireland assistant director Bronagh Muldoon said major improvements in child protections are needed.

“But our message isn’t just for politicians. It’s important to remember that abuse can be prevented, and as thousands of people get behind Childhood Day, they demonstrate an understanding that we all have a responsibility to play our part to prevent abuse and neglect,” she said.

“We also urge anyone with concerns about a child, even if they’re unsure, to contact the NSPCC Helpline to speak to one of our professionals. People can call 0808 800 5000, email help@nspcc.org.uk or fill in the online form.”

People can support Childhood Day today and the NSPCC by donating at nspcc.org.uk/donate

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