Reports of child neglect in the UK have risen by more than 60% in the last five years, prompting a leading children's charity to warn that the nation is "failing our most vulnerable children".
It comes as children's charity NSPCC revealed that it had dealt with nearly 19,500 calls and emails from concerned adults in 2016/17 with almost nine in 10 of those calls proving serious enough to be referred to social services or the police.
According to the NSPCC the figures constitute the highest number of child neglect reports it has handled in a year but the full scale of the problem could be "much greater".
NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said it was "vital we understand the true nature and scale of child neglect in the UK so we can collectively tackle the fundamental causes" and called for "a Government-commissioned, nationwide prevalence study on child abuse and neglect" to be undertaken.
calls and emails were received by the NSPCC from concerned adults in 2016/17
rise in UK child neglect reports received in five years
Following the release of the new figures Mr Wanless said it was vital that anyone suspecting a child of being neglected took action to report it.
He said: "Neglect can have severe and long-lasting consequences for children, and can also be an indicator of other forms of abuse. This is why it is so important for anyone suspecting a child of being neglected to contact the NSPCC Helpline, so we can alert the authorities to quickly step in and help those in need."
Meanwhile Kate Mulley, director of policy and campaigns at Action for Children, called on the government for more financial help to deal with neglect cases.
She said: "These worrying figures add to the growing evidence that we are failing our most vulnerable children.
"The Government simply cannot continue asking local authorities to provide children's services with one hand tied behind their back. Savings targets have left them with little option but to close family support services that are proven to spot and address the signs of neglect before it's too late.
"We urgently have to re-invest in community-based family support services to prevent this crisis spiralling."