Concerns about children being abused have rocketed since lockdown measures were introduced across the UK, a charity has claimed.

The NSPCC says there has been a worrying rise in calls from members of the public reporting potential cases of child abuse. The children’s charity was contacted more than 31,000 times between April and December last year by adults raising concerns about youngsters they believed might be being neglected or abused.

And social workers have reported an increase in the number of children they are seeing with physical injuries or who are dealing with emotional abuse at home.

One social worker who works with families in Oldham gave an anonymous interview to the Manchester Evening News about the situation, describing her profession as the “forgotten frontline”.

She told the newspaper that periods of school closure since March last year meant many problems in family homes were being missed, as concerns about young people’s welfare were not being flagged up to social services by concerned teachers.

This means that social workers are often not getting involved in helping families until the situation has already escalated.

Pandemic has added to problems

Financial worries, health fears and restrictions on people’s freedoms have also contributed to difficult situations in family homes.

The social worker said: “The situation with lockdown has put pressure on people where that pressure wasn’t there before. Families are in and out of each other’s pockets because there is nowhere else to go.”

Earlier this year, Gerard Jones, the executive director for children and young people at Oldham Council said there had been a “spike” in the number of youngsters who needed to be put on plans for their protection.

He said: “We’ve had quite a lot of referrals since July. It was fairly quiet in the beginning of lockdown and then gradually it started, it was a bit of a tsunami which gradually built and built.”

The Government has announced £79 million of additional funding for mental health services aimed at supporting children and young people, including teams working in schools.

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