Compared with figures from September 2019, almost 70% of social workers working in children’s services say referrals to the service have increased.

The most common factor in those cases is domestic violence, with one-in-five referrals relating to the issue in some way.

National Director of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), Maris Stratulis, said ‘stored-up’ harms from the period of lockdown – including domestic violence, parental substance misuse, mental health issues and sexual harm – have become more apparent as children have returned to school.

She said it is ‘extremely concerning’ that the increase in referrals is more than likely to rise again as families continue to experience hardships in the coming weeks and months, and there are ‘not enough resources to respond effectively’.

Kent Children’s Services, Britain’s biggest child protection unit agrees that we are now beginning to see how the lockdown and troubled occurrences at home during that time has impacted children.

Assistant Director of the unit, Stephen Fitzgerald, said: ‘the most significant impact of lockdown has been a lack of opportunity to socialise, the lack of opportunity to get out of a situation that for them is very difficult and sometimes fearful.’

The news comes as Cafcass, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service reported a record number of child cases in England for September this year.

There were 5,761 new cases reported for the month – 644 cases more than the same time last year.

Family Courts concur

Sir Andrew MacFarlane, the most senior judge in the family court agreed this was partly because of a rise in the number of domestic abuse cases.

‘Sadly, the number of domestic abuse cases has gone up, and there will be a necessary correlation in applications to protect children in those sad cases.’

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