Referrals by NSPCC for child neglect in Northern Ireland up more than 71 per cent
CASES of child neglect referred to police and social services in Northern Ireland have increased by more than 70 per cent in five years.
Last year there were 247 such reports by the NSPCC following calls to its helpline from adults who were concerned about child neglect.
In the north, neglect makes up nearly a third of the Child Protection Registration and the charity says local politicians must prioritise further investment in health and social care to tackle neglect.
It says the Safeguarding Board of Northern Ireland (SBNI), which works to tackle neglect, "needs to have more support".
Head of service Neil Anderson, said: "Neglect can have severe and long-lasting consequences for children, and can also be an indicator of other forms of abuse.
"This is why it is so important for anyone suspecting a child of being neglected to contact the NSPCC Helpline, so we can alert the authorities to quickly step in and help those in need. In Northern Ireland."
In Northern Ireland and Great Britain, the NSPCC is contacted on around 53 times a day by adults concerned about child neglect.
Last year its helpline dealt with 19,448 calls and emails about child neglect - the highest number the charity has ever had to handle.
Of those contacts, 87 per cent were serious enough to be referred to social services or the police for further investigation, with many cases involving children under five.
A growing number of people contacting the NSPCC Helpline also described parents as having a problem with alcohol and drugs, with some of them regularly leaving their children unsupervised so they could go drinking with friends.
The latest figures are in the NSPCC's`How Safe are our Children?' report.
Common signs and symptoms of neglect:
• Poor appearance and hygiene
• Living in an unsuitable home environment eg dog mess or no heating
• Left alone for long time
• Untreated injuries, medical and dental issues
• Poor language, communication or social skills
• Seem hungry or turn up to school without having breakfast or any lunch money
NSPCC Helpline 2 0808 800 5000