username

password

Coram ChambersAlpha BiolabsFamily Law Week Email Subscription1 Garden Court

Child abuse linked to witchcraft rises by a third, councils reveal

The number of children in England identified by councils as having been abused for reasons associated with witchcraft has risen by a third in the past three years, the Local Government Association has revealed.

Abuse of children based on faith or belief – which includes witchcraft, spirit possession and black magic – increased from 1,460 to 1,950 cases between 2016/17 and 2018/19, a rise of 34 per cent, with councils dealing with the equivalent of 38 such cases a week.

The new figures also show that the number of children identified by councils through a social work assessment as either having or being at risk of FGM has reached a record high – with 1,000 such cases in 2018/19, up 6 per cent on the 940 cases in the previous year.

The National FGM Centre, a joint initiative between the LGA and Barnardo's, says both sets of figures are hugely worrying, of significant national concern and probably don't reflect the true prevalence of this "hidden" crime.

The LGA said that council social workers have become better at identifying cases, and that the work of the National FGM Centre – which provides services for children and their families affected by FGM and abuse linked to faith or belief – is vital.

The figures also reflect the pressure on children's services with social workers starting new "episode of need" cases for more than 1,000 children each day.

The LGA said the next government needs to ensure councils have the funding needed to continue to take effective action to keep children safe from harm and abuse.

Leethen Bartholomew, Head of the National FGM Centre, said:

"We want to help end new cases of FGM in England by 2030 and to safeguard children from other harmful practices like child abuse linked to faith or belief. In order to achieve this, we need more partnership working, resources to tackle the issue, mandatory training for professionals and more awareness raised among communities."

14/11/19