As this pandemic continues to roll on and we remain in a national lockdown, we are all too aware as a force the impact this it is having on the children in our community.

A major concern for us as a Force is that fear that child abuse and neglect is being left undetected, with more families staying indoors and children not having access to their normal support networks such as schools or extra-curricular clubs.

We have seen fewer calls to our Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) and saw almost a 10 per cent reduction in direct reports to us in the last quarter (Oct-Dec) of 2020 compared to the third quarter (Jul-Sep).

I know that the perpetrators do not stop abusing victims because we are in a lockdown.

If anything that abuse could increase with growing pressures the pandemic can cause, but victims do have less opportunity to seek safety and report crimes.

We are looking at what we can do internally to make sure the same level of care is being provided and when we do go into homes that officers are ensuring the safety of all who live there is being taken into account.

However, we are calling on the public to play their part in this and to contact us if you are worried about the safety of a child in your community.

Neighbours, family members, and tradespeople visiting a home can play a huge role and are all being encouraged to know the signs and report if something doesn’t feel right.

An understandable concern that sometimes prevents someone from calling us or the local authorities is the fear that you will split up a family and that it isn’t your business.

This isn’t automatically the case and we, along with our partners, are here to help and support families.

Quite frankly, it is everyone’s business to protect children from abuse and your call could save a life.

If you’re worried – make a note of what you see and hear then call 101.

If there is an immediate danger dial 999.

If you think a child is at risk of significant harm in Wiltshire call MASH on 0300 456 0108 between 8:45pm – 5pm weekdays and until 4pm on Fridays.

For out of hours call 0300 456 0100.