Guidelines for the recognition and response to neglect

Neglect is the most common type of abuse experienced by children and young people in England. Nationally in 2014, figures showed that 48,300 children were subject to a Child Protection Plan and 43% had the category of neglect.

Nearly 5,000 referrals were recorded as having a primary factor of ‘neglect’, representing about 13% of the total referrals. 1 in 6 social care assessments were due to neglect, reflecting the national picture. Of those children subject to a Child Protection Plan, 29% had an identified primary need of neglect. This is lower than the national figure (46%) (the national Child in Need (CIN) Census 2015/16). Nearly 4% of children that were assessed subsequently became looked after. Cases of neglect were the single largest group entering care.

Neglect is:

The persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and / or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:

  • provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment);
  • protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger;
  • ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers); or
  • ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.

It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.
Working Together 2015

Six classifications of neglect (Horwath 2007):

  • Medical 
  • Nutritional  
  • Emotional  
  • Educational 
  • Physical 
  • Lack of supervision and guidance

Neglect Infographic LSCP


Responding to Neglect

If you think neglect is occurring in a family, household or for an individual child or young person you must consider your next course of action.

Good practice

  • Record concerns, conversations and interaction
  • Use a chronology
  • Assess and review
  • Discuss concerns with colleagues and partner agencies
  • Discuss concerns with the child, parent / carer and family members as appropriate
  • Think Family, Work Family


Early help (universal and targeted support)

  • Discuss concerns with your agency Safeguarding Lead, Cluster Lead or Targeted Service Leader within the local cluster.
  • Initiate an Early Help Assessment and Plan if not already in place (register Plan on 0113 3760336 option1)


Significant harm


Immediate Risk of harm

  • Phone the police on 999 


Neglect Strategy 2017-2022

Launched in July 2017 the 5 year Neglect Strategy links together objectives in order to improve our ability to quantify the extent of neglect in Leeds, and ensuring that all agencies and practitioners are better able to recognise and respond to neglect.


Practitioner's Tool Kit

The Practitioner’s Tool Kit is a resource for practitioners when working with children and families. The Tools support practitioners in their day to day work, to identify and understand what is going on within a family.


Further information: