“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. […] It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.” (Working Together, 2015)

What is neglect?

Neglect is a complex issue that provides challenges to public health as well as safeguarding. Nationally, neglect is the most common form of maltreatment in England. Neglect affects both boys and girls and occurs throughout childhood and adolescence. Neglect causes great distress to children and leads to poor health, educational and social outcomes in the short and long-term. It is important, therefore, to end any potential cycle of neglect, where this is identified.

Below are some views of young people about neglect:

  • ‘It could make people sad. If you’re ignored your entire life and your family doesn’t pay attention, you get sad and frustrated. You need trust. Without trust you’re on a hard road’. (Boy Aged 15)
  • Always having the same clothes on; not having a lot of food – always asking for food’ (Boy Aged 14)

DSCB Neglect Strategy

Neglect is challenging for practitioners as it is frequently passive and not always intentional. It is more likely to be a chronic condition than crisis led and this impacts on how agencies respond. It is often combined with other forms of maltreatment. Families often need long term support and professionals may not agree about the threshold for intervention in the absence of a clear cut agreement about what constitutes neglect.

The Devon Safeguarding Children Board has recently published its Neglect Strategy for the period of 2017-2020, which sets out how the partnership will work to prevent, identify and respond to neglect. The strategic priorities set out in the strategy are:

  1. Prevention
  2. Intervention
  3. Children at the Centre
  4. Working Together

You can download the DSCB Neglect strategy here.

The neglect toolkit is now available.

The DSCB has recently completed a Multi-Agency Tabletop Audit on Adolescent Neglect. You can download the report here.

Rethinking ‘Did Not Attend’

Below is a video animation jointly commissioned by Nottingham City Council, NHS Nottingham City CCG and the NCSCB about what it means when children miss medical appointments. It is a powerful reminder that children do not take themselves to appointments, but have to be brought by their parent or carer, and that missing an appointment might have a serious impact on their wellbeing.

Department for Education:

This link takes you to the safeguarding children pages of the website where there are numerous articles, reviews and research papers related to child neglect as well as wider safeguarding concerns: https://www.gov.uk/childrens-services/safeguarding-children

Devon Safeguarding Children Board (DSCB):

The Board’s website has the link to the South West Child Protection Procedures (SWCPP) for identifying and responding to safeguarding concerns. The website also contains numerous articles, links and resources that can support practitioners and managers including training available to support practitioners and managers.

Devon Threshold Tool

This link takes you to the Devon Threshold tool.



Devon Partnership Trust: A film by and for children who have a parent with a mental health problem Available at: https://www.devonpartnership.nhs.uk/Single-item.52.0.html?&no_cache=1&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=410


The website provides access to an information service to help to locate practice, policy and research on particular topics. CASPER provides free email updates about safeguarding matters and Inform which includes full and summary research documents: http://www.nspcc.org.uk/


This site contains several publications including findings from Serious Case Reviews and good practice guides: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk

Research in Practice (RIP):

RIP supports practitioners and agencies to ensure evidence informed practice to achieve the best outcomes for children. The site contains a wide range of resources and research and policy updates as well as access to learning events: https://www.rip.org.uk