Child cruelty offences jump by 25% in a single year

New data reveals over 26,000 cases of adults neglecting, mistreating, or assaulting children last year.

NSPCC can today reveal child cruelty and neglect offences increased by a quarter last year as the country emerged from the pandemic.


In a Freedom of Information request to police forces in England the leading child protection charity found there were 26,307 offences recorded in 2021/22 – an average of 72 a day – which is a 25% rise from last year.1

NSPCC experts warned at the start of the pandemic that an increase in stressors to parents and caregivers, coupled with an increase in children’s vulnerability, and a disruption in normal protective services would lead to an increased risk of abuse.

The charity is highlighting the worrying scale of the problem on its flagship Childhood Day, and two weeks on from the publication of the Independent Review into Children’s Social Care and the National Review into the deaths of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson.

Both reviews, alongside this new data, reinforce the need for a reset of the child protection system. The NSPCC wants to see children’s social care in England focused on early intervention, with children at its heart. And above all, political leadership from the very top of Government.

As thousands of people come together today to back the NSPCC’s Childhood Day, the charity is emphasising that everyone has a responsibility to keep children safe from abuse and neglect.

Paula's story

Paula is the adoptive mother to Tony whose biological parents were imprisoned for ten years after breaking his legs and failing to get help for days.

"We have witnessed first-hand the devastating effect of child cruelty and neglect and hope no child ever experiences what Tony went through, however, that won’t be made possible without government leading the way and reforming the children’s social care system."

Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO, said:

“The statistics we have released today demonstrate the worrying scale of abuse and neglect. This must be a priority for the Government.

“The evidence from a series of reviews have shown where and how to better resource and support a child protection system that works better for all those who need it. Now is the time for action.

"But our message isn’t just for politicians. It’s vital to remember that child abuse can be prevented. As thousands of people get behind Childhood Day today, they demonstrate their support for positive change and their willingness to play a part in keeping children safe.”

This year Lidl GB, who have supported the charity for 5 years and Sky Cares, Sky’s commitment to supporting the communities where their customers and employees live and work, are sponsoring the NSPCC’s Childhood Day as retail and media partners respectively. Both partners have helped to raise awareness of Childhood Day, as well as holding their own activities with their colleagues across the UK to help raise vital funds.

Abuse can stop with a call to the NSPCC Helpline. Will you help us answer every call?


  1. 1. The NSPCC sent Freedom of Information requests to police forces in England requesting the number of child cruelty offences they recorded in 2020/21 and 2021/22. Of the 39 police forces, 36 responded while three forces have not responded. They revealed that police recorded 26,307 offences last year and 21,102 the year before which is a 25% increase.