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14.11.19

The LGA responds to witchcraft claims

The number of children in England identified by councils as having been abused for reasons associated with witchcraft have risen by a third in the past three years, the LGA reveals today.

Abuse in 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 cases a week.  

The National FGM Centre, a joint partnership between the LGA and Barnardo’s, says these figures are hugely worrying, of significant national concern and probably do not convey the true prevalence of this ‘hidden’ crime.

The LGA says 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 LGA has also stated that 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.

Cllr Anita Lower, the LGA’s lead on FGM and Chair of the National FGM Centre’s Advisory Board, said: “Rising cases of FGM and child abuse linked to faith or belief are extremely worrying and are destroying the lives of children and young people in communities across the country.

“Social workers have become better at identifying the signs of FGM and belief-related abuse, but the true incidence rate is likely to be higher as these crimes are under-reported.

“Councils are determined to tackle the practice of FGM and work with partner organisations to do everything possible to protect and support children and young people.

“To support this goal, children’s services departments need to have the funding to address the huge demand for help from children and their families and maximise the effectiveness of prevention and intervention work.”

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