THE NSPCC is calling for donations this Christmas as it revealed the number of child cruelty and neglect cases in Cumbria has more than double in five years.

Police recorded 166 child cruelty and neglect offences in the last year, up from 81 in 2012/13.

But the charity says this reveals only a fraction of number of children who are deliberately neglected, assaulted, abandoned or exposed to serious harm by their parents or carers.

Detective Inspector Dan St Quintin said: “Our child neglect statistics have gone up because more people are aware of the issue and have confidence in reporting child neglect. This is enabling the police and multi-agency partners to intervene earlier.

“I would like to reassure the public that all reports of child neglect or cruelty are thoroughly investigated, in a sensitive and professional way.

“Child neglect is treated very seriously. It is very harmful to the children involved and has been linked to children going missing from home and being victims of further crime.

“Our priority at all times is to keep children safe, and we will continue to work with partners to tackle any reports of neglect and cruelty. If someone is found to be deliberately hurting a child we will work hard to bring them to justice and keep any children involved safe.”

The NSPCC running Light For Every Childhood Christmas appeal to raise awareness of child neglect and is calling for donations to ensure it can be there for children suffering from neglect at Christmas and all year round as the amount of police offences is mirrored by the number of calls made to the NSPCC helpline.

Last year 19,937 calls were made about children suffering neglect in the UK - with three quarters referred urgently to police or children’s services.

One NSPCC helpline practitioner recalls a recent referral she made to the police.

Tracey Hamer, NSPCC helpline practitioner said: “The police went out to do a welfare check, and later told me that mum had been found unwell and violently vomiting and unable to care for her three-year-old daughter.

“The house was in a state of disrepair and the kitchen worktops were covered in dirty crockery with mould on them. The washing machine was broken, and mum said that water would come up through the pipes when she tried to use it so she couldn’t clean any clothes.”

The NSPCC says recorded police offences of this type reveal only a fraction of neglect cases, as social workers will step-in when parents cannot meet the needs of their child. They put a plan in place to prevent issues from escalating.

Last year 27,856 children in the UK, and 250 in Cumbria, were on a child protection plan or register for concerns involving neglect.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “It’s unclear exactly why the number of child neglect and cruelty offences has risen so dramatically, but greater public awareness and improvements in how police record offences could be factors, along with deeper societal issues.

“Whatever the reasons for the increase in child neglect there is something we can all do about it now, we need to be aware of vulnerable children and be ready to report it to the NSPCC or the authorities if we are concerned for their safety or well-being.

“We are appealing to the generous nature of the public to support our Light For Every Childhood Christmas appeal to help us be there for even more young people in need.”

The appeal will raise funds for its helpline to answer calls and emails.

Adults concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC helpline seven days a week on 0808 800 5000, or email

Children under 18 can contact Childline on 0800 1111.