According to the councils, witchcraft and black magic are increasingly a factor in the abuse of children. Official data show that the number of cases of child protection based on faith or conviction increased by one third last year to almost 2,000 in England.
Lancashire, Bradford and Leeds recorded the highest incidence in 2018/19, but social workers reported more incidents compared to the previous year, including 71 in Nottingham, 35 in Bristol and 34 in Southwark.
This means that the councils are currently handling 38 such cases a week, said the Local Government Association, which calls for more resources to solve the problem. Cases based on belief or belief include abuse under the guise of witchcraft, the treatment of possession of spirits, and the use of black magic. The data, released by the National Statistics Office, showed activists as evidence that social workers are often better able to identify hidden and culturally complex abuses.
But there was also an alarm that the numbers so long after the death of Victoria Climbié, eight, who was killed in 2000 by ritual abuse by her guardian Khyra Ishaq, seven, who had starved to death in 2008, rise from her mother and mother in Birmingham her partner, who firmly believed in spirits, and Kristy Bamu, 15, who was killed in 2010 by his sister and her partner in an exorcism in her apartment in East London.
The data also showed that the number of children identified as affected or at risk by the councils as part of a social work assessment has reached a record high – with 1,000 such cases in 2018/19, an increase of 6% over the previous year equivalent.
"Increasing cases of FGM and child abuse related to belief or belief are extremely worrying and are destroying the lives of children and adolescents in communities across the country," said Cllr Anita Lower, the FGM leader of the Local Government Association. "Social workers are better at identifying the signs of FGM and faith-based abuse, but the actual incidence rate is likely to be higher as these crimes are not adequately reported."
Mor Dioum, director of the Victoria Climbié Foundation, a charity working to improve child protection policy, said, "It is encouraging that practitioners identify harmful practices that could result in serious injury or death to children. However, we need to further examine the census data to understand the spread of these abuses and to effectively engage with communities if we wish to prevent child abuse related to belief or belief, including the eventual eradication of FGM. "
The city police stressed that only a minority of people who believe in witchcraft or intellectual property continue to abuse children. A briefing stated that belief in evil spirits that children can "own" is often associated with the belief that an obsessed child can infect others by sharing food or simply being in their presence. Rebellion, nightmares or illness can be seen as symptoms of "possession" while children are sometimes scapegoated because of financial difficulties, divorce, infidelity, illness or death.