MORE than 600 concerns of child cruelty and neglect offences were recorded by Police Scotland last year.

The figures were revealed by charity NSPCC as part of an analysis of police data across the UK, which showed 23,529 offences recorded by forces in 2019/2020.

Overall in the UK there has been 53% rise since 2016/17.

But in Scotland the annual number of offences has varied considerably over these four years, between 640 and 818, with last year’s figure totalling 672.

Children have told Childline they are being made to starve and sleep in damp, mouldy bedrooms.

The NSPCC has issued the findings as part of a warning that children may be at risk of abuse this Christmas and that everyone needs to play their part in keeping young people safe.

To raise awareness of child neglect and abuse this Christmas, the NSPCC has launched its Here for Children Christmas Appeal.

Over the last six months the NSPCC has been looking closely at the impact of lockdown – and its frontline teams are concerned that increased vulnerability, the challenges of safeguarding remotely and wider pressures on families may have increased the risks of abuse and neglect.

During the spring lockdown, an average of 50 children a day across the UK, turned to Childline after suffering abuse, with counselling sessions about this issue increasing by 22% compared with pre-lockdown levels.

A 14-year-old girl from Scotland told a Childline counsellor: “I’m feeling so stressed and upset at home right now.

"My dad abuses me a lot by making me starve.

"I literally have to beg for things to eat, and if I do get food it’s the tiniest bits.

"I feel hungry a lot but then it just turns into me feeling sick."

A 15-year-old girl from Scotland who contacted Childline said: “My parents don’t look after me and my siblings properly.

"The house is very dirty and my bedroom is damp and mouldy.

"The house is constantly cold as there is no heating and no hot water."

As part of its new appeal, the charity is calling on the public to donate £20 to the NSPCC so that services like Childline can be here for children this Christmas.

The charity is reminding adults that if they have concerns about a child’s welfare they can call the NSPCC helpline.

NSPCC Scotland is also urging the Scottish Government to ensure that a comprehensive recovery plan is put in place and to deliver the long-term investment needed to provide high quality preventative and therapeutic services for children and support for families in every part of the country.

Matt Forde, head of service at NSPCC Scotland, said: “Every year there are children in Scotland experiencing pain and suffering at the hands of those who are supposed to care for them.

"For those children whose homes are not always a safe place, this year will have been extremely difficult.

"Their usual support networks and services will have been greatly reduced and many will have felt trapped and isolated.

“So, this year it is even more essential that children have a place where they can seek help and support."

Adults concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC helpline seven days a week on 0808 800 5000, or email