Cases of child cruelty increased by a quarter as England emerged from lockdown

child cruelty

The numbers highlight the unintended impact of Covid-19 measures on abuse monitoring (Photo: Getty)

Cases of child cruelty and neglect have increased by a quarter in just one year, new figures reveal.

A spike in crimes against children was seen as England emerged from Covid-19 lockdowns.

High-profile cases shed light on the problem, including the tragic case of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.

The six-year-old died after months of neglect at the hands of father Thomas Hughes and stepmother Emma Tustin.

Less than a fortnight later, two women were arrested following the death of 16-month-old Star Hobson, who suffered ‘catastrophic injuries’.

Frankie Smith, the child’s mother, had her initial sentence for ‘causing or allowing’ the tragedy increased to 12 years, while her partner Savannah Brockhill got 25 years for murder.

In both cases, concerns were raised that telltale signs of abuse may have been missed during lockdown isolation.

BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE Undated West Yorkshire Police-issued photo of 16 month old Star Hobson.  Frankie Smith, the mother of the murdered child Star Hobson, had her eight-year prison sentence for causing or allowing her daughter's death increased to 12 years in the Court of Appeal.  Issue date: Tuesday, March 15, 2022. Photo PA.  See the PA COURTS Star story.  Photo credit must be: West Yorkshire Police/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This brochure photo may only be used for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporary illustration of events, things or people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption.  Image reuse may require additional permission from the copyright holder.

Star Hobson died of injuries inflicted in his short life inflicted by his mother and mother’s girlfriend (Photo: PA)

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children NSPCC has unearthed data that confirms there has been an increase in crime.

Freedom of information requests to forces across England showed that there were 26,307 crimes of cruelty and negligence reported in 2021/22.

This is an average of 72 cases per day and a 25% increase from the previous year’s 21,102 cases, the NSPCC said.

Of England’s 39 police forces, 36 responded to the charity’s requests for data.

It comes two weeks after the publication of a review of the deaths of Arthur and Star, which showed the need for a redefinition of the child protection system.

Undated photo of family booklet by Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.  Emma Tustin was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum sentence of 29 years at Coventry Crown Court for cruelly starving, poisoning and then murdering her six-year-old stepson.  The 32-year-old fatally attacked the young woman with severe force in the hallway of her home in Cranmore Road, Solihull on June 16, 2020. He died in hospital the next day.  Issue date: Friday, December 3, 2021. Photo PA.  See the story PA COURTS Arthur.  Photo credit must be: Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This brochure photo may only be used for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporary illustration of events, things or people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption.  Image reuse may require additional permission from the copyright holder.

Arthur starved to death, poisoned and beaten, eventually dying as a result of repeated abuse and neglect (Photo: PA)

Sir Peter Wanless, Chief Executive of the NSPCC, said: “The statistics we release today demonstrate the troubling scale of abuse and neglect. This must be a priority for the government.

‘Evidence from a series of analyzes has shown where and how to get better resources and support a child protection system that works better for all those in need. Now it’s time for action.

“But our message is not just for politicians. It is vital to remember that child abuse can be prevented.

‘As thousands of people support Children’s Day today, they demonstrate their support for positive change and their willingness to play a role in keeping children safe.’

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