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“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 as a result of maternal substance abuse. 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 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 2013

Signs of neglect can include:

·         Frequent absenteeism from school;

·         Begs or steals money or food;

·         Lacks needed medical or dental care, immunizations or glasses;

·         Lacks appropriate clothing, e.g. for weather conditions, shoes are too small, ill-fitted clothes;

·         Clothes are consistently dirty or ‘smelly’;

·         Teeth are dirty, hair quality is poor and contains infestations;

·         Hands are cold, red and swollen;

·         Loss of weight or being constantly underweight;

·         The parent or adult caregiver has failed to protect a child from physical harm or danger.

The damaging effects of severe neglect can lead to accidental injuries, poor health, disability, poor emotional and physical development, lack of self-esteem, mental health problems and even suicide.

Neglect can often become an issue when parents are dealing with complex problems, sometimes including domestic abuse, substance misuse, mental health issues, social-economic issues or they may have been poorly looked after themselves. These problems can have a direct impact on parents’ ability to meet their child’s needs. Even when parents are struggling with other personal issues they have a responsibility to care for their child or seek help if they are unable to parent adequately.

In a review of the various definitions of neglect in 2007, Professor Jan Howarth identified the following types of neglect:

· Medical neglect – this involves carers minimising or denying children’s illness or health needs, and failing to seek appropriate medical attention or administer medication and treatments.

· Nutritional neglect – this typically involves a child being provided with inadequate calories for normal growth. This form of neglect is sometimes associated with ‘failure to thrive’, in which a child fails to develop physically as well as psychologically. However, failure to thrive can occur for other reasons, independent of neglect. More recently, childhood obesity resulting from an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise has been considered as a form of neglect, given its serious long term consequences.

· Emotional neglect – this involves a carer being unresponsive to a child’s basic emotional needs, including failing to interact or provide affection, and failing to develop a child’s self-esteem and sense of identity. Some authors distinguish it from emotional abuse by the intention of the parent.

· Educational neglect – this involves a carer failing to provide a stimulating environment, show an interest in the child’s education at school, support their learning, or respond to any special needs, as well as failing to complying with state requirements regarding school attendance.

· Physical neglect – this involves not providing appropriate clothing, food, cleanliness and living conditions. It can be difficult to assess due to the need to distinguish neglect from deprivation, and because of individual judgements about what constitutes standards of appropriate physical care.

· Lack of supervision and guidance – this involves a failure to provide an adequate level of guidance and supervision to ensure a child is physically safe and protected from harm. It may involve leaving a child to cope alone, abandoning them or leaving them with inappropriate carers, or failing to provide appropriate boundaries about behaviours such as underage sex or alcohol use. It can affect children of all ages.

A simple and helpful way to view neglect is to consider the needs of children and whether or not their parents or carers are consistently meeting such needs. If not, then neglect may very well be an issue.

If you have concerns that a child is being neglected please call the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on

01234 718700 or email multiagency@bedford.gov.uk


Pan Beds Neglect Conference

This is a FREE multi-agency event and is suitable for professionals from all sectors who work with child and adolescent age groups. For the flyer for the event click here

Thursday 30th March 2017

Venue: Venue 360, 20 Gipsy Lane Luton LU1 3JH

Time: 9:30 - 4:30 (Registration 9:00 - 9:30)

This event will aim to provide practitioners with information and learning activities to support them further within practice and support improved outcomes, when supporting families and children from all age groups.

To book a place on this session please go to: www.centralbedscpd.co.uk/safeguarding  

Event code: SG 17/075

For enquiries please email LSCB.Training@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk or call 0300 300 6676.


Local information

Working with Neglect - click on this link for our local working with neglect guide

Safeguarding children and young people from Neglect guidance - to see this guidance click on here


Click on this link for the recently published Pan Beds Neglect Strategy


Neglect Practitioner Event

A Neglect Practitioner event was held  on the 24th September 2015 for Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire practitioners.                   

Anonymised case studies from this event, are also provided below for your learning: 

·         Case study 10  

·         Case study 11

·         Case study 12

·         Case study 13

·         Case study 14

·         Case study 15


The link will only work on updated browsers such as Chrome therefore some users will only receive sound unless they use an updated browser


National information


View the NSPCC website on neglect http://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect/

Ofsted’s report In the child’s time: professional responses to neglect (the link is



The NSPCC has published a report giving an overview of our research on child neglect, evaluations of assessment tools and services, and new evidence on how we can work together to prevent child neglect.

Source: NSPCC 03 November 2015

Spotlight on preventing child neglect: an overview of learning from NSPCC services and research (PDF)


Disrespect NoBody campaign

The second phase of the Home Office Disrespect Nobody campaign will run from 2 February until the end of March 2017.

The aim of the Disrespect NoBody campaign is to prevent young people, both boys and girls aged 12 to 18 years old from becoming perpetrators and victims of abusive relationships.

For 2017 the focus of the campaign will be consent and sexting, which are both issues where many young people need more education and information. The campaign advertising directs young people to the website www.disrespectnobody.co.uk where they can get further information and signposts them to organisations who can provide support.

Please click on the link below to download the partner brief and campaign materials.

Click here to go to their website