Parents jailed for child neglect
One of bedrooms in the a house of a couple who have been jailed for neglecting five of their children (Gloucestershire Police/PA)
A couple have been jailed for neglecting five of their children.
Nine children lived in bedrooms that smelled of urine and animal faeces and mattresses were soiled, Gloucester Crown Court heard.
The mother was sentenced to two years nine months and the father was sentenced to two years imprisonment.
Police photographs of the families' home show the squalor and filth within which the children were forced to live. It included a dirty and cluttered bedroom, ivy growing through a window and an open plug socket that was hanging from the wall.
The couple, who can not be named, pleaded guilty to neglecting five children between 2007 and 2012 at an earlier hearing. The ages of the children ranged from a baby to a young teenager. Charges relating to the other four will lie on file.
Gloucestershire police Detective Inspector Katy Miles, the senior investigating officer in the case, described it as "the most horrific case of child neglect the team has dealt with".
She said: "It's hard to imagine how any parent could just sit back and let their children live in such squalor but that's what happened. When they were challenged they were obstructive and didn't understand what they had done wrong - now they must live with the consequences.
"There are no winners but I'm pleased to say that since the children have moved into a caring and loving environment they have shown encouraging signs of improvement and their future is bright again.
"I would just encourage anyone with concerns about the treatment of a child to come forward and report them.
"While cases likes this present challenges, we have specialist officers as part of the Child Abuse Investigation Team and we are dedicated to investigating these offences and bringing prosecutions like this."
After the hearing, David Derbyshire of Action for Children called for a Government strategy to prevent neglect and help professionals put an end to children's suffering "as soon as concerns arise".
He said: "Children are left in devastating and damaging situations of neglect every day and more must be done to protect them.
"This case demonstrates strongly the need for early action that would help families out of terrible situations before they reach a crisis point and children's lives are put at risk.
"Teachers, police, social workers and health visitors have told us of barriers they face when they want to help children they suspect are being neglected. "