The NSPCC has reported a 15 per cent rise in the number of calls from the public worried about children’s welfare.
The charity said that every day its helpline assists more than 50 children suffering neglect. It is urging the public and professionals to act on their instincts if they suspect something is wrong in the light of the cases of Hamzah Khan and Daniel Pelka.
Daniel died of a head injury in March last year after a campaign of abuse by his mother Magdelena Luczak and former soldier and stepfather Mariusz Krezolek, both of whom were jailed for a minimum of 30 years for his murder following a trial this year.
Meanwhile Hamzah’s severely malnourished and skeletal remains were only discovered almost two years after he died in squalor at his mother’s filthy, rubbish-filled home. Amanda Hutton was jailed for 15 years for starving him to death earlier this month. Both boys were four years old when they died.
Last year, the NSPCC’s 24-hour helpline dealt with reports involving 18,345 children who were being so badly neglected they had to be referred to social services or police for further investigation, many involving infants under five.
Around one third of all contacts – by phone, email or text – were about neglect, which the charity said has been the main area of concern for the last seven years. Many of the children were living in filthy conditions, often without enough food or adequate clothing and sleeping on flea-infested beds.
The NSPCC said one woman who contacted the helpline with concerns about a family told a counsellor: “There are flies and maggots in some of the rooms. The house is full of unwashed clothes and mess. Their pet dog lives in their bathroom. The whole house stinks of dog’s urine.”