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With the NSPCC highlighting 85 sexual offences against children were reported each day to police in England and Wales in the 12 months leading up to April 2014, there’s been a lot of discussion on early intervention. 

In supporting the findings from the NSPCC, Annie Hudson, Chief Executive of The College of Social Work, issued a statement saying “we wholeheartedly support the NSPCC’s analysis about the importance of early intervention work”. 

The complexity and indeed number of victims is widespread – all four countries in the UK saw the number of recorded sexual offences against children increase by between 12 and 39% in 2013/14 when compared to the previous year.

The NSPCC notes that this could partly be due to an increase in willingness from victims to come forward following media coverage. However, regardless of the reason for the rise, it is clear more children are speaking out and ultimately there’s an incredibly strong requirement for early intervention. 

Early intervention is integral

The NSPCC makes a strong case for early intervention way before any court proceedings. It also states that social workers and other professionals need to be given additional support to help identify and protect victims as well as focusing on prevention. 

Variations in social worker support

Crucially, the report makes a clear distinction between the support that young children need in a family context and the much more sophisticated support adolescents require in terms of risk prevention and protection. 

The NSPCC also made reference to the findings from the Early Intervention Foundation, which  estimates nearly £17m a year is being spent on a range of acute services for young people experiencing significant difficulties in life. More investment into early intervention, it points out, could help reduce both the need and the expenditure. 

The challenge ahead

The report is exceptionally realistic when talking about the challenges that local councils face across the UK; especially given the extended period of austerity. 

For early intervention to be able to work social workers need to be able to build direct relationships with children and their families. This ultimately means councils across the country will need to continuously adapt and respond to the need for less red tape. 

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