Pandemic could lead to more Blackpool children suffering neglect

Child protection leaders expect to see more neglect cases in Blackpool as the full  impact of the Covid pandemic emerges.

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 7:03 pm
Updated Friday, 23rd April 2021, 7:05 pm

The effect of schooling being disrupted and pressure on families leading to domestic abuse are among the main concerns.

A meeting of Blackpool Council’s children and young people’s scrutiny committee heard the most recent figures showed domestic abuse in Blackpool had risen by eight per cent.

But this was less than in some areas, with Birmingham having experienced a 30 per cent increase.

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It is feared neglect could increase
It is feared neglect could increase

But Stephen Ashby, independent scrutineer for the Children’s Safeguarding Assurance Partnership for Blackpool, which was presenting its annual report, warned “as things develop we might see a truer picture.”

He said it was likely the town would see an increase in neglect cases.

Mr Ashby told the meeting: “At the moment we don’t have a huge amount of evidence to say neglect cases are getting worse.

“But professionals will feel there are a lot of families, who hadn’t been involved in child protection previously, who might have moved closer to the edge of that.”

He added: “There is real concern regarding what the future holds and what difference the education system has made in terms of children being in and out of school.

“Whether we see more home schooling and whether we see big rises in mental health problems among children, which is predicted.”

Blackpool already has a higher than average rate of young people admitted to hospital with mental health disorders at 138 per 100,000 of those aged 17 and under, compared to a national rate of 88 per 100,000.

Jeanette Richards, interim director of children’s services at the council, said work was being done to detect potential neglect including regular reviews of children’s records.

Operation Compass had led to more co-ordination between the police and schools in relation to domestic abuse to help recognise possible neglect more quickly.