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Children's Social Work Statistics Scotland 2014/15

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Child Protection

Icon4 per cent decrease from the previous year in total number on the child protection register

IconMore children on the child protection register for longer than a year

IconMore children leaving the register due to 'Improved home situation

This section presents data on children on the child protection register from 1 August 2014 to 31 July 2015. This will be referred to as 2015 for ease of reporting (with 2013-14 referred to as 2014 etc.). Child protection means protecting a child from abuse or neglect. This can either be in cases where abuse or neglect has taken place, or in cases where a likelihood of significant harm or neglect has been identified. The risk of harm or neglect will be considered at a Child Protection Case Conference. Where a child is believed to be at risk of significant harm, their name will be added to the child protection register (a child protection registration).

2014-15 was only the third year that child protection data has been collected entirely at individual level. With three years of individual data now available, it has been possible to further verify the robustness of previously-collected data, which gives a high level of confidence in its accuracy. In future years, additional breakdowns and analysis will be available as the series lengthens. Some of the 2013-14 figures have been revised as part of the 2014-15 validation process.

Children on the child protection register

As Chart 5 shows, the number of children on the child protection register has fluctuated regularly, but there is a general upwards trend. The total has increased by 34 per cent between 2000 and 2015 (from 2,050 to 2,751). Following updated information from local authorities, the 2014 data has been revised down slightly from the initial published figure from 2,882 to 2,877. The number of children registered in 2015 is higher than every year in the time series apart from 2014; it has fallen 4 per cent since last year. It should be noted that relatively large year-on-year changes are experienced in a number of local authorities (see Table 2.2 for local authority level breakdowns).

Chart 5: Number of children on the child protection register by age, 2000-2015

Chart 5: Number of children on the child protection register by age, 2000-2015

In 2015, 51 per cent of children on the child protection register were aged under five. Since 2008 there have been more children aged under 5 than over five on the child protection register. However, in 2015, there was a seven per cent fall in the number of those aged 5 and under, and this has driven the overall fall in the number of children on the register.

There is no strong gender pattern among children on the child protection register - 50 per cent were boys, 45 per cent were girls and the remaining five per cent were unborn children. Because of a change in how unborn children were recorded by local authorities in 2010, figures for unborn children are only comparable from 2011 onwards.

Table 2.1: Number of children on the child protection register by gender, 2012-2015(1)

2012 2013 2014(2) 2015 Rate per 1,000 under 16s 2015(3)
Boys 1,335 1,299 1,400 1,378 2.7
Girls 1,268 1,220 1,354 1,242 3.2
Unborns 93 125 123 131 -
Unknowns 2 1 0 0 -
All children 2,698 2,645 2,877 2,751 3.0

(1) Full data by gender and age group for 2000-2015 is available in Table 2.1 of the excel version of the publication tables.
(2) Revised since original publication. See background note 4.10 for more information.
(3) Source: National Records of Scotland, 2014 mid-year population estimates.

From Table 2.2 it can be seen that, in Scotland in 2015, 3.0 children in every 1,000 children under 16 were on the child protection register. At local authority level the rate varied from 0.2 per 1,000 children in Eilean Siar to 6.3 per 1,000 children in Clackmannanshire.

As is often the case, there is a lot of variability in the numbers of children on the child protection register at a local authority level. In many cases, there are no obvious reasons for changes, although in some areas, a large number of sibling groups entering the system has led to increasing numbers.

The large fall from 67 last year to 26 children reported in East Lothian is credited to the 'Signs of Safety'[1] approach to case conferences, which aims to build a 'safety network' around the parents and child.

Table 2.2: Number of children on the child protection register and rate(1) per 1,000 population aged 0-15 by local authority, 2005 and 2015(2)

2005 2015
Number Rate Number Rate
Aberdeen City 147 4.5 98 2.9
Aberdeenshire 108 2.3 90 1.8
Angus 53 2.6 88 4.5
Argyll & Bute 39 2.4 33 2.4
Clackmannanshire 12 1.3 57 6.3
Dumfries & Galloway 62 2.3 91 3.8
Dundee City 83 3.4 71 3.0
East Ayrshire 41 1.8 66 3.1
East Dunbartonshire 8 0.4 51 2.8
East Lothian 27 1.5 26 1.4
East Renfrewshire 15 0.8 33 1.8
Edinburgh, City of 234 3.3 256 3.4
Eilean Siar 13 2.7 1 0.2
Falkirk 68 2.4 75 2.7
Fife 118 1.8 182 2.8
Glasgow City 264 2.6 505 5.2
Highland 118 2.9 79 2.0
Inverclyde 34 2.2 42 3.2
Midlothian 71 4.5 29 1.8
Moray 70 4.1 45 2.7
North Ayrshire 27 1.0 90 3.9
North Lanarkshire 92 1.4 99 1.6
Orkney Isles 4 1.1 6 1.7
Perth & Kinross 37 1.5 82 3.3
Renfrewshire 69 2.2 85 2.8
Scottish Borders 37 1.8 28 1.5
Shetland 8 1.7 12 2.8
South Ayrshire 28 1.5 61 3.4
South Lanarkshire 115 2.0 187 3.4
Stirling 29 1.8 44 2.8
West Dunbartonshire 23 1.3 16 1.0
West Lothian 103 3.0 123 3.5
Scotland 2,157 2.3 2,751 3.0

(1) Source: National Records of Scotland, 2005, 2015 mid-year population estimates.
(2) Information for all years from 2007 is included in the publication tables.

Chart 6: Concerns identified at the case conferences of children who were on the child protection register, 2015

Chart 6: Concerns identified at the case conferences of children who were on the child protection register, 2015

Since 2012, multiple concerns can be recorded at each case conference (rather than just the main category of abuse). This means that the total number of concerns is larger than the total number of registrations and that figures on concerns identified from 2012 onwards are not comparable to previous data on category of abuse/risk. For the 2,751 children on the child protection register at 31 July 2015 there were 6,769 concerns at the case conferences at which they were registered - an average of 2.5 concerns per conference. Chart 6 shows the most common concerns identified were emotional abuse (39 per cent), neglect (37 per cent) and parental substance misuse (36 per cent).

Child protection registrations and deregistrations

The number of registrations to and deregistrations from the child protection register have both increased over the last five years, although registrations has dropped this year. Table 2.3 shows that 15 per cent of children who were placed on the child protection register during 2014-15 had been on a child protection register before. This figure has fluctuated slightly over the past five years, but has consistently been around 16 per cent.

Table 2.3: Number of registrations following an initial, pre-birth or transfer-in case conference by length of time since previous deregistration, 2013-2015(1)

2013 2014 2015 % 2015
Never been registered before 3,574 3,819 3,690 84%
Registered before but time unknown 1 1 2 -
Less than 6 months 114 111 112 3%
6 months - < 1 year 88 108 91 2%
1 year - < 18 months 73 94 95 2%
18 months - < 2 years 54 98 67 2%
2 years or more 318 361 325 7%
Not known if been registered before 29 30 11 0%
Proportion of registrations to children who had been registered before(2) 15% 17% 16%  
Total 4,251 4,622 4,393 100%

(1) Information back to 2007 is included in the excel version of the publication tables.
(2) Excludes cases where it is not known if a child had been registered before.

Chart 7: Percentage of deregistrations by length of time on the child protection register, 2007-2015

Chart 7: Percentage of deregistrations by length of time on the child protection register, 2007-2015

Chart 7 shows that, while there is an increase in number of children registered, the length of time for which children are registered had decreased for a period of seven years. However, in 2015, there was a jump of 22 per cent in the number of placements of longer than a year, although this still only accounts for 13 per cent of the overall number.

Table 2.4: Number of deregistrations from the child protection register by length of time on register and reason for deregistration, 2013-2015(1)

2013 2014 2015 % 2015
Length of time registered
Less than 6 months 2,012 2,492 2,474 55%
6 months to under 1 year 1,576 1,431 1,456 32%
1 year to under 18 months 409 248 283 6%
18 months to under 2 years 132 134 130 3%
2 years or more 58 77 156 3%
No date of registration 41 12 23 1%
Reason for deregistration
Child taken into care & risk reduced 617 670 610 13%
Child with other carers 322 334 259 6%
Child died 8 5 6 0%
Removal of perpetrator 123 106 167 4%
Improved home situation 2,136 2,187 2,491 55%
Child automatically de-registered due to age 7 15 8 0%
Child moved away - no continued risk 21 48 47 1%
Other reason 993 1,028 934 21%
Reason not known 1 1 - -
Total 4,228 4,394 4,522 100%

(1) Information for all years back to 2007 is included in the excel version of the publication tables.

Table 2.4 shows the ongoing increase in deregistrations. There were 4,537 deregistrations from the child protection in the year to 31 July 2015, a four per cent increase on 2014 and a 42 per cent increase on 2008. The most common reason for deregistration in 2014-15 (in 55 per cent of cases) was an improved home situation.

Within Scotland

Across Scotland, 17.6 per thousand under 18s are looked after or on the child protection register, but there is variation across local authorities. The rate is highest in Glasgow (with 35.8 children per 1,000 under 18s) and lowest in East Renfrewshire, (with 8.6 per children per 1,000 under 18s). In general rates are higher in the West of Scotland and urban areas.

Cross-UK child protection comparisons

Child protection systems across the United Kingdom vary but are generally comparable. Scotland's collection year runs from 1 August to 31 July, so end‑year figures are reported at 31 July, while the collection year in England, Wales and Northern Ireland runs from 1 April to 31 March (so end-year figures are at 31 March). The time series of individual-level data is now long enough in Scotland to allow a figure to be reported at 31 March for this comparison.

Chart 8: Cross-UK comparison of rate of children on the child protection register per 10,000 under 18s, 2004-2015

Chart 8: Cross-UK comparison of rate of children on the child protection register per 10,000 under 18s, 2004-2015

While Scotland has seen an increasing trend in the rate of registrations to the child protection register over the last decade, it is not as steep as the increase in England and Wales over the same period and remains at the lowest rates across the UK. Northern Ireland has been the outlier is terms of its trends over recent years, but now it appears that the other three parts of the UK are converging, with Scotland remaining noticeably low.

There are links to the cross-UK data underlying Chart 8 in Background Note 1.8 and more information on the comparability of child protection data across the UK here:
http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Children/socialservicestats

Additional tables on child protection are available at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Children/PubChildrenSocialWork