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Over a third of social workers and police officers have felt powerless to intervene in cases where they have suspected a child is being neglected, according to new research published by Action for Children.
The charity surveyed social workers and police officers in the UK to gain an understanding of the issues and challenges they face when tackling child neglect. Studies suggest that up to ten per cent of children in the UK actually experience neglect. It is the biggest reason for a child to have a child protection plan in the UK, ahead of both physical and sexual abuse.
When asked about the most recent time they have felt powerless to intervene in a suspected case of child neglect, 29% of social workers and police officers cited the main reason being that the case did not meet the threshold for social work intervention.
In addition to social workers and police officers feeling powerless to intervene, 16% of the professionals surveyed are seeing more cases of suspected child neglect now compared with 12 months ago.
Action for Children's Chief Executive, Dame Clare Tickell, said: "It's a real concern that frontline professionals are telling us not only that they are seeing more cases of neglect, but feel they can't intervene as soon as possible. We rely on frontline professionals to identify cases of neglect and work with others to give families the help they need - but only when these barriers are removed can they protect the most vulnerable and neglected young people and children.
"The new coalition government must listen to what is being said and recognise the importance of early intervention services in breaking cycles of neglect, and in reaping long-term economic benefits. To cut these services now would have devastating consequences for the most vulnerable families in society, and also for the public purse."