New NSPCC office in Belfast to tackle under-reporting

By Lenore Rice

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) is opening a call centre in Belfast, which it hopes will help deal with a problem with under-reporting of child neglect cases in Northern Ireland.

People in Northern Ireland are more reluctant than their UK counterparts to report cases of child neglect and abuse, according to the NSPCC, and they hope that establishing a local office in Belfast will encourage more people to come forward with their concerns. There was a 23 per cent increase in calls from people in Northern Ireland to the NSPCC last year, but the Belfast helpline manager, David Burns, thinks the current calls levels do not reflect the size of the problem of child abuse and neglect in the province. He believes there is "under-reporting" of incidents, with many callers concerned that they are just gossiping.

The majority of the calls handled by the NSPCC relate to child neglect, but Mr Burns says they cover a wide range of problems, including child poverty, sexual abuse, and general advice. Of the 1,000 calls received last year, over half (58 per cent) were considered serious enough to refer on to social services and the PSNI.

If you are concerned about the welfare of a child and want to seek advice from the NSPCC, call their Belfast centre at 0808 800 5000 or visit their website by clicking here.

For legal advice in respect of a children's issue, including matters relating to care proceedings, contact one of the family law solicitors at Wilson Nesbitt by calling 0800 840 9292.