I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Ministry of Justice.
Protecting children from harm is a Government priority. All children should be able to grow up in a safe, happy environment. The focus must be on early intervention as we know that the earlier that help and support is given to vulnerable children and families, the more chance there is of turning their lives around, protecting children from harm and preventing problems escalating into child cruelty.
However, where that is not possible, we have tough legislation in place to punish offenders for this intolerable behaviour. This is the offence of child cruelty at section 1 of the Children and Young Person’s Act 1933. Neglect is one way that the offence can be committed.
The Government is currently taking forward a provision (clause 66) in the Serious Crime Bill, to update and clarify the law on child cruelty, in particular to make absolutely clear that cruelty which causes psychological suffering or injury is covered by this offence.
The number of people cautioned, prosecuted and sentenced at all courts for cruelty or neglect of children, from 2009 to 2013 ( the latest available), can be viewed on the Ministry of Justice website at the following link:-
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/311455/cjs-outcomes-by-offence-2009-2013.xls after selecting an offence of “11 Cruelty and neglect of children”.
Those convicted of child cruelty are more likely to go to prison now than in 2010.
The proportion of offenders given a custodial sentence of 10 years, or a sentence of Imprisonment for Public Protection, for offences relating to cruelty or neglect of children, in England & Wales, from 2009 to 2013 can be viewed in the table. (The maximum custodial sentence for the offence in section 1 of the 1933 Act is 10 years’ imprisonment. Previously, it was also possible to be given a sentence of Imprisonment for Public Protection for this offence.)