CHILD PROTECTION STATISTICS FOR THE YEAR ENDED 31 MARCH 2002
A Scottish Executive National Statistics Publication
05 November 2002
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Statistics on child protection covering the year ended 31 March 2002 have been published today. The main points are:
- There were 2,018 children on local child protection registers at 31 March 2002; this is an increase of 18 on the number one year previously. Of these, just over half were boys and eight in ten were under the age of 11.
- Just under 7,200 children were referred to local authorities for child protection inquiries in 2001-02: 8 per cent higher than the previous year.
- Of those children referred to local authorities, 40 per cent were the subject of an inter-agency case conference.
- In 84 per cent of instances where children were subject to a case conference, the children in question were living at home prior to being referred.
- Of these case conferences, almost 70 per cent resulted in the child being placed on the local child protection register (1,979 children).
- In over three quarters of all case conferences, the primary source of abuse/risk to the child was known or suspected to be the child's birth parent(s).
- Almost three quarters of children placed on the child protection register during the year were identified as being at risk of physical injury or physical neglect.
- 70 per cent of children removed from child protection registers during the year had been on the register for less than a year, with 7 per cent having spent at least 2 years on the register.
The following tables are available:
Table 1 - Children referred for child protection inquiries: gender and age group.
Table 2 - Children who were subject to a case conference: placement of children prior to referral.
Table 3 - Children who were subject to a case conference: by child's primary known / suspected abuser.
Table 4 - Children registered following a case conference : by category of abuse / risk identified by conference.
Table 5A - Children de-registered: by category of abuse/risk identified at conference.
Table 5B - Children de-registered: by length of time on child protection register.
Table 6 - Number of children on child protection registers: by gender and age group.
Table 7 - Number of children on child protection registers and rate per 1,000 population aged 0-15: by local authority area.
Table 8 - Numbers of children referred, subject to a case conference, registered during the year, and on child protection registers: by local authority area.
NOTES FOR NEWS EDITORS
1. The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 places certain duties on local authorities in relation to the wellbeing of children in their area. These include a general duty to promote and safeguard the welfare of children in need and a specific duty to cause inquiries to be made into the case of a child who may be in need of compulsory measures of supervision due to lack of parental care, abuse or neglect. Arising from these duties, Local Authority Social Work Departments will have received reports about children who may have been abused or who may be at risk of abuse. These children may have been referred by relatives, neighbours, professionals or other sources. In practice there are differences in interpretation between Local Authorities as to what constitutes a referral. For example, an initial observation by a neighbour may not be counted as a referral until after further preliminary investigations have taken place.
2. Social Work Departments decide whether there is a need to initiate child protection inquiries and the subsequent steps to follow. National guidance sets out a framework for collaboration between Social Work Departments and other agencies in child protection cases (Protecting Children - A Shared Responsibility : The Scottish Office 1998).
3. At the initial stage of inquiries, practitioners will assess whether the child is at immediate risk of serious harm. If so, they may seek to secure the safety of the child by applying for a child protection order or an exclusion order under the 1995 Act. Inter-agency child protection case conferences may be convened to consider the nature and extent of any future identified or potential risk and to decide what action should be taken to reduce the risk. Interim measures of support, supervision or care (e.g. voluntary social work involvement, placing the child with a foster family) may be put in place in order to alleviate the risk to the child.
4. A case conference will decide whether any child(ren) should be placed on the local child protection register. A child should be registered when his/her safety and welfare is considered to require an inter-agency protection plan. An inter-agency plan provides a framework for inter-agency assessment, case work and review. The purpose of a protection plan is to reduce any perceived risk to the child and to safeguard and promote his/her welfare.
5. If the child is registered, a review case conference will normally be held within three months and at six monthly intervals thereafter. The review conference will review the progress of the inter-agency work to protect the child and consider any continuing risk. The conference will also consider whether there is a need for continued registration or to update the child protection plan.
6. When professionals who are working with the child and family decide that the risk to the child has been eliminated or reduced, the local authority should remove the child's name from the child protection register. This decision should normally be made by a review case conference.
7. The statistics in this News Release have been derived from returns provided by local authorities about children who have been referred to authorities because of concerns that they may have been abused or may be at risk of abuse. For this purpose, abuse is defined under the following categories:
Non-organic failure to thrive
8. A child may also be referred for child protection inquiries if he or she is the known or suspected perpetrator of abuse.
9. All 32 local authorities were able to provide the Scottish Executive with child protection data. Some authorities were, however, able to produce some but not all of the data requested. Where this was the case, the remaining data was estimated for these authorities and these estimates were then subsequently used in the calculation of Scotland level data. There may be differences in the recording and interpretation of child protection data across Local Authorities, and so some of the apparent variation between Local Authorities may reflect reporting procedures rather than actual child protection practice.
11. Supporting tables are available on request - and on the Scottish Executive web site ( www.scotland.gov.uk).
12. This is a National Statistics publication. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the National Statistics Code of Practice. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.
13. Public enquiries (non-media) about the information contained in this News Release should be addressed to Angus MacDonald, Scottish Executive Education Department, Area 1-A, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ. Telephone 0131 244 3551 or e-mail angus.macdonald @scotland.gsi.gov.uk.
Contact: Murray Meikle 0131-244-2972
05 November 2002