Hundreds of children in Derbyshire County Council’s care after suffering abuse and neglect

It has been revealed that 842 children have been taken into the council's care over the last two years.

The details were secured following a Freedom of Information Request by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

It can now be revealed that the main reason that 471 of these children were taken into care was due to abuse and neglect at the hands of their own families.

This is followed by 119 due to family dysfunction, 104 for absent parenting, 59 for “family in acute stress”, 48 due to the child’s disability, 34 for parental disability or illness and seven for socially-unacceptable behaviour.

To clarify, many of the children taken into the council’s care may fall into several of these categories.

However, the category they have been placed in is the main reason why they were taken away from their families or guardians.

A Derbyshire County Council spokesperson said: “We would expect abuse or neglect to be the main reason children come into care and despite increases in this area nationally, in Derbyshire we are still below the national average.

“Children come into care as a result of many complex issues in Derbyshire and there are a number of potential reasons for any increase, which again would tend to be in line with national findings.

“The council is committed to helping keep Derbyshire children living safely and happily with their families wherever possible and provides a range of support services to help this happen.”

The NSPCC has revealed that between 2012 and 2018, 306 child cruelty and neglect offences were reported to Derbyshire police, with a peak of 81 in 2015.

In 2016 to 2017 there were 201 reported sexual offences against children aged four to eight in Derbyshire.

Meanwhile, in 2017, the NSPCC made 78 referrals to authorities in Derby and 200 referrals to Derbyshire authorities after receiving alerts from family members and neighbours of potential victims of child cruelty and abuse.

An NSPCC spokesman said: “Abuse and neglect cause profound trauma and suffering that can last a lifetime.

“We know many children in care have previously been abused, so it is therefore vital that they are given the best possible chance of moving forward with their lives and coming to terms with what happened to them.

“These figures show why it is so important for anyone concerned about a child to speak out, as it could ensure they get the help they need.”

Here are some examples of real calls to the NSPCC’s helpline, detailed at the end of this article, provided to us without identifying details, regarding potential child abuse and neglect.

A member of the public called the helpline to say: “I am calling as I am concerned about a little girl. She always looks very neglected. She walks around without socks on, she has a rash on her skin and she is covered in head lice.

“She is never dressed appropriately – her clothes are threadbare and her shoes do not fit her. People have noticed this so they gave her clothes at Christmas.

“She does not receive medical attention as she has head lice, scabs on her face, her teeth are rotting and she has injuries that were never seen to.”

A relative called the NSPCC to say: “On Boxing Day I went to drop off some presents for the boy and was upset to find him all alone.

“I have no idea how long he had been alone for. He was barely dressed and didn’t have any food.

“The house was really dirty and messy – with food and clothes everywhere. There were also empty alcohol bottles and pet faeces on the floor. I felt like he was bringing himself up.”

Another member of the public said: “I am calling about concerns of neglect of three children.  Their house is absolutely disgusting – there is so much rubbish in the home that you can barely move.

“The kitchen is so dirty it is growing mould and you are unable to prepare any food there.

“The children are always hungry and appear underweight. They smell because they are so dirty and are never washed.

“The children are inadequately dressed – if they even have clothes on they are way too small and this is noticed by other people.

“I bought them clothes for Christmas because otherwise they wouldn’t have any and it is difficult for the parents to take support.”

A relative called the helpline to say: “I am calling because I am concerned about children who were left home alone whilst their parents went out at night to get drunk.

“The children were scared because they woke up upset and no-one was there for them.”

A member of the public reported to the helpline: “I am calling because I am concerned about a two-year-old child.

“Her parents are into drugs. The father sells drugs from his house when the child is at home and his mother takes drugs daily.

“They share their drug-taking on social media posts.

“They struggle with caring for the child and their home. The child is either completely ignored or screamed at and called names when they are intoxicated.”

Meanwhile, a concerned relative reported to the helpline: “Today I visited my sister and her 13-year-old daughter was at home.

“When I asked my niece why she wasn’t in school she said that she hasn’t been for a while.

“I’m very concerned about her, she told me that she hasn’t had any contact with the outside world for months.

“I also know that she hasn’t been taken to see a dentist for years now, and I’m worried about her physical and mental health.”

The NSPCC Helpline can be called on 0808 800 5000 or [email protected], it is fully confidential.

Childline is available for young people 24/7 on 0800 1111 or via www.childline.org.uk.

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