- Number of children on the child protection register increased slightly in 2019, but is lower than the peak in 2014
- Around half of children were on the child protection register for less than 6 months
- Most common causes for concern were emotional, and domestic abuse, parental substance misuse, and neglect .
This section presents data on children on the child protection register from 1 August 2018 to 31 July 2019. This will be referred to as 2019 for ease of reporting (with 2017-18 referred to as 2018 and so on). 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 is 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).
This was the seventh year that child protection data has been collected entirely at individual level. As the series has lengthened, more in-depth validation of the data has been possible, which gives a high level of confidence in its accuracy.
Children on the child protection register
The number of children on the child protection register increased from 2,530 in 2018 to 2,599 in 2019 (a 3% increase). Chart 3 shows that the number of children on the child protection register fluctuated regularly, and there was a general upward trend until 2014. However, the number on the register has reduced in four out of the last 5 years.
As is usual, the number of children on the register in 2019 will be revised in next year's publication, as updated information is received from local authorities. This report includes revised figures in 2018 for all local authorities.
In 2019, half of children on the child protection register were aged under five and half were over 5. Since 2008, there have been more children aged under five than over five on the child protection register, with the gap narrowing so that in 2019 when there were 1,273 children aged under 5 and 1,326 aged 5 and over on the child protection register.
There is no strong gender pattern among children on the child protection register - 51% were boys, 46% were girls, and the remaining 4% were unborn (Table 2.1). 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.
(1) Unborn children include both unborn children with a known gender and those with an unknown gender. Those with a known gender are not included in the boys or girls categories in this table.
At child protection case conferences, multiple concerns can be recorded (rather than just the main category of concern). This means that the total number of concerns is larger than the total number of registrations. For the 2,599 children on the child protection register at 31 July 2019, there were 7,332 concerns at the case conferences at which they were registered - an average of 2.8 concerns per conference. Chart 4 shows the most common concerns identified were domestic (1,068) and emotional (1,037) abuse, neglect (1,064), and parental substance misuse (1,061). The parental substance misuse category is further broken down by the type of substance misused. Alcohol misuse only was identified as a concern in 339 conferences, drug misuse only in 477 conferences and both in 245 conferences. Data is shown in full in additional table Additional Table 4.3.
Child protection registrations and deregistrations
The number of registrations to the child protection register increased by 1% between 2018 and 2019. The proportion of children registered who had never been registered before fell to 80% in 2019, down from 82% in 2018 (Table 2.2). The remaining 20% of registrations on the child protection register were for children who had been registered previously. The largest group of these children are those that had been previously registered 2 years ago or more, with this group making up 11% of all registrations in 2019.
|Time since last deregistration||2009||2018||2019||2009||2018||2019|
|Never been registered before||3,103||3,495||3,425||86%||82%||80%|
|Registered before but time unknown||0||1||0||0%||0%||0%|
|Less than 6 months||68||84||99||2%||2%||2%|
|6 months - < 1 year||78||107||104||2%||3%||2%|
|1 year - < 18 months||94||62||107||3%||1%||2%|
|18 months - < 2 years||54||54||96||1%||1%||2%|
|2 years or more||231||424||456||6%||10%||11%|
|Not known if been registered before||0||19||6||0%||0%||0%|
|Proportion of registrations to children who had been registered before(1)||14%||17%||20%||N/A||N/A||N/A|
(1) This is calculated as a proportion of registrations excluding cases where it is not known if a child had been registered before.
Table 2.3 shows the numbers of deregistrations from the child protection register. There were 4,224 deregistrations from the child protection register in the year to 31 July 2019, a 2% decrease from the 4,316 recorded in 2018. The most common reason for deregistration in 2019 was an improved home situation, recorded in 53% of cases.
|Time since last deregistration||2009||2018||2019||2009||2018||2019|
|Length of time registered|
|Less than 6 months||1,498||2,143||2,132||43%||50%||50%|
|6 months to under 1 year||1,178||1,518||1,548||34%||35%||37%|
|1 year to under 18 months||447||450||355||13%||10%||8%|
|18 months to under 2 years||197||130||103||6%||3%||2%|
|2 years or more||179||72||43||5%||2%||1%|
|No date of registration information||0||3||43||0%||0%||1%|
|Reason for de-registration|
|Child taken into care & risk reduced||536||508||497||15%||12%||12%|
|Child with other carers||295||320||307||8%||7%||7%|
|Removal of perpetrator||82||108||144||2%||3%||3%|
|Improved home situation||1,195||2,428||2,223||34%||56%||53%|
|Child automatically de-registered because of age||16||8||12||0%||0%||0%|
|Child moved away - no continued risk||33||31||37||1%||1%||1%|
|Reason not known||0||0||0||0%||0%||0%|
(1) Includes where a child transferred to another local authority and where reason has not been recorded.
Chart 5 shows that, since 2015, the percentage of deregistrations of children who spent less than six months on the child protection register increased each year to the current figure of 50% of deregistrations. There has been a corresponding decrease over this period in the proportion of deregistrations for children who spent 6 months or more on the child protection register.
Child Protection Register Geographical Comparisons
Table 2.4 shows the number and rate of children under 16 who were on the child protection register in Scotland in 2019 by local authority. The rate varied from 0.8 per 1,000 children in the East Renfrewshire to 4.7 per 1,000 children in East Ayrshire.
There is a lot of variability from year to year in the numbers of children on the child protection register at a local authority level due to the small numbers of children involved in each local authority. In many cases, there are no obvious reasons for changes, although, in some areas, sibling groups entering and leaving the system has led to fluctuating numbers.
|Number on Register||Rate(1,2)||Number on Register||Rate(1,2)||Number on Register||Rate(1,2)|
|Argyll and Bute||32||2.1||31||2.4||28||2.2|
|City of Edinburgh||287||4.1||189||2.4||122||1.5|
|Dumfries and Galloway||79||3.1||93||4.0||25||1.1|
|Na h-Eileanan Siar||23||4.9||*||*||*||*|
|Perth and Kinross||43||1.7||75||3.1||78||3.2|
(1) Per 1,000 population aged 0-15. Source: National Records of Scotland, 2007-2019 mid-year population estimates
(2) The rate shown in this table includes unborn children who are on the register
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 typically reported at 31 July in this publication, 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). However, in Chart 6 we report the Scotland figures at the 31st March to allow comparison with the other countries.
The proportion of children on the child protection register has been broadly stable in Scotland over the last decade and this proportion is notably lower compared with the rest of the UK. Scotland did not experience the large increases in children on the register in 2007-2011 as seen in the rest of the UK.
There is more information on the comparability of child protection data across the UK at the bottom of the following link: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Children/socialservicestats
The data used to produce the charts and tables on child protection in the publication are available in the supporting files accompanying the publication. There are also additional tables available in the supporting files. www.gov.scot/collections/childrens-social-work