Child protection referrals against domestic abuse climb in south east and Hampshire with NSPCC fearing it's 'the tip of the iceberg'

RISING child protection referrals in the south east of England will only increase if extra support is not given, according to a charity.

Tuesday, 1st February 2022, 3:25 pm
Updated Tuesday, 1st February 2022, 3:26 pm

Figures from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) show more than 3,000 police referrals were made in Hampshire – with 19,622 being made in the south east.

The figures have been described by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) as ‘the tip of the iceberg.’

Officials and supporters of the NSPCC are putting pressure on the government to make therapeutic and specialist services, based in communities, accessible to children.

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The number of child protection referrals has increased by 38 per cent in the South East of England, with figures also rising in Hampshire. Picture: Jon Challicom/ChildLine/PA Wire

The Victim’s Law consultation, which discusses these measures, will end next week.

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Terri White, journalist, author and former editor of Empire magazine, who suffered sustained physical and sexual abuse as a child, said: ‘I lived through violence as a child and can testify to the physical, emotional and mental trauma you’re left with which can be life-long.

‘That trauma has taken me decades to work through.

‘I spent years battling self-harm, addiction and severe mental health issues.

‘I felt like I was nothing, and there will be kids today like me who live their life in fear.

‘But with support, through the Victims Law, right there in their own communities, they can begin to recover.’

Ms White added children could live ‘happy fear-free, healthy lives’ if more specialist support was granted.

Statistics from HMICFRS show 19,622 referrals were made in the south east between 2020 and 2021 – a 38 per cent increase.

In Hampshire, 3,457 cases were reported between March 2020 and 2021, compared to 3,262 previously.

These include arrests, voluntary attendances and referrals for domestic abuse crimes and incidents.

In England and Wales, referrals rose by 8 percent to 244,197.

The NSPCC also received a record number of contacts concerned about the wellbeing of children last year.

Officials are pleased with children being officially recognised as victims under the Domestic Abuse Act, but don’t think enough direct support is available.

Local authorities can provide accommodation to children and families fleeing domestic abuse, but do not have to administer community and therapeutic services.

Anna Edmundson, NSPCC head of policy and public affairs, said the statistics will only get worse without specialist support.

She said: ‘Sadly, we know these figures are the tip of the iceberg as domestic abuse often goes unreported.

’Domestic abuse can derail a childhood and it is unacceptable that support to recover remains patchy across the country, and what is available risks being axed by cash-strapped councils.

‘We urge Dominic Raab to use the Victim’s Law to address this and ensure young victims of domestic abuse have easy access to professional services within their community so they can rebuild their lives no matter where they live.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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