1.1 The looked after children statistics were collected at an individual-level from local authorities. This publication also presents revised children looked after data for 2010-11. Further breakdowns of the 2010-11 data will be published here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Children/PubChildrenSocialWork
1.2 The child protection survey collected aggregate information on the number of initial/pre-birth case conferences, the number of child protection registrations and number of de-registrations. For the first time in 2011-12 individual-level information was collected on the children on the child protection register at the end of the reporting year (31 July 2012). From 2012-13, all child protection data will be collected at an individual-level.
1.3 The secure care and close support case accommodation statistics were collected from seven secure care units, three of which had dedicated close support units. St Philip's closed on 5 August 2011, so five days into the 2011-12 reporting year. Therefore, at 31 July 2012, there were six secure care units. Aggregate information was collected on the units themselves, and individual-level information was collected on each of the young people in the dedicated secure care and close support accommodation units.
2. Coverage and Timing
2.1 The looked after children data were collected on all children/young people who were looked after between 1 August 2011 and 31 July 2012, on every episode of being looked after which occurred at some point in the reporting period, every placement that took place during these entire episodes and every legal reason for which a child was looked after.
2.2 Statistics were also collected at an individual-level for eligible for aftercare and current planned series of short-term placements sections. The survey forms, data specifications and guidance notes for the data presented in this publication (and previous years publications) can be seen at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Children/SurveyChildrenLookedAfter
2.3 Until 2010, the child protection and secure care accommodation collections covered an annual period running 1 April to 31 March. From 2011 onwards the data reported covers the year 1 August to 31 July of each year, so the 2012 data for both child protection and secure care accommodation refer to the year 1 August 2011 to 31 July 2012. The change in period covered has not had a noticeable effect on the statistics.
2.4 The child protection statistics survey covered the period 1 August 2011 to 31 July 2012. If a member of the public or professional report concern about a child, a referral will be made to an agency such as the local authority social work team. If they decide that the child is at risk of significant harm, an investigation will be undertaken. In 2010-11 and previous years aggregate information was collected on the referrals that were initiated during the period (so numbers starting). In 2011-12 aggregate information was collected on child protection investigations which ended during this period. Information on child protection referrals was not collected in 2011-12.
2.5 The child protection data collection is moving to being collected at an individual-level. In 2011-12, information on age group, gender and concerns identified at case conference was collected by an aggregate child protection survey. A individual-level snapshot of children on the child protection register at 31 July 2012 also recorded information on age, ethnicity, additional support needs, religion, concerns identified at case conference and known/suspected abuser. From 2012-13 on, all child protection information will be collected at individual-level.
2.6 Survey forms and guidance notes for both the aggregate and individual-level data child protection collections can be seen at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Children/SurveyChildProtection.
2.7 The secure care and close support case accommodation census covered 1 August 2011 to 31 July 2012. The secure care and close support accommodation data collected at the unit level covers the number of places, emergency bed usage, staffing, and average cost per week per bed. Individual-level information was collected on the characteristics of the young person, admissions and discharges. For those in secure care accommodation information was also collected on medical care. The survey forms and guidance notes for the data presented in this publication (and previous years publications) can be seen at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Children/SurveySecureAccommodation
3. Definitions and notation Children Looked After
3.1 Looked after child - The definition of a looked after child is in section 17(6) of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, as amended by Schedule 2, para 9(4) of the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007. A child is looked after when he or she is:
(a) provided with accommodation by a local authority under section 25 of the 1995 Act or
(b) subject to a supervision requirement made by a children's hearing, in terms of section 70 of the 1995 Act or
(c) subject to an order, authorisation or warrant made under Chapter 2, 3 or 4 of Part II of the 1995 Act, and according to which the local authority has responsibilities in respect of the child. These include a child protection order, a child assessment order, an authorisation from a justice of the peace to remove a child to a place of safety or maintain a child in a place of safety, removal to a place of safety by a police constable, or a warrant to keep a child in a place of safety made by a children's hearing or a sheriff or
(d) living in Scotland and subject to an order in respect of whom a Scottish local authority has responsibilities, as a result of a transfer of an order to it under the Children (Reciprocal Enforcement of Prescribed Orders etc. (England and Wales and Northern Ireland) (Scotland) Regulations 1996. These 1996 Regulations were made under section 33 of the 1995 Act or
(e) subject to a permanence order made after an application by the local authority under section 80 of the 2007 Act.
3.2 Supervision Requirement - A children's hearing is a lay tribunal which considers and makes decisions on the welfare of the child or young person before them, taking into account all the circumstances including any offending behaviour. The hearing has to decide on the measures of supervision which are in the best interests of the child or young person. If the hearing concludes compulsory measures of supervision are necessary, it will make a Supervision Requirement which will determine the type of placement for the child. In most cases the child will continue to live at home but will be under the supervision of a social worker. In some cases the hearing will decide that the child should live away from home with relatives or other carers.
3.3 Types of placement
- At home with parent(s): at home with parent(s) or 'relevant person(s)' as defined in Section 93(2)(b) of the Children's (Scotland) Act 1995
- With friends/relatives: placed with friends or relatives who are not approved foster carers. Also referred to as 'kinship care'.
- With foster carers provided by the local authority
- With foster carers purchased by the local authority
- With prospective adopters
- Other community: such as supported accommodation, hospital (e.g. at birth)
- Local authority home: in local authority children's home/hostel, local authority home/hostel for children with learning disabilities, local authority home/hostel for physically disabled children
- Voluntary home: in voluntary children's home/hostel, in voluntary home/hostel for children with learning disabilities, in voluntary home/hostel for physically disabled children
- Residential school: in local authority residential school (home/hostel), in voluntary residential school (home/hostel), in private school, in independent school
- Secure accommodation
- Crisis care: for example: in women's refuge, in local authority hostel for offenders, in voluntary hostel for offenders, in local authority hostel for drug/alcohol abusers, in voluntary hostel for drug/alcohol abusers
- Other residential: a known residential setting but does not fit with one of the above
3.4 There is information on the process by which children come to be looked after and legislation governing this on the Scottish Government website: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/People/Young-People/protecting/lac
3.5 Child Protection Case Conference (CPCC) - a meeting where the risk of harm or neglect of a child is addressed. There are four types of CPCC:
|Type||Who it is for||Potential outcome|
|Initial||a child not currently on the child protection register|| - Child is registered or |
- Child is not registered
|Pre-birth||an unborn child|| - Child is registered or |
- Child is not registered
|Review||a child already on the child protection register or where there are significant changes in the child or family situation|| - Child remains on register or |
- Child is de-registered
|Transfer||a child already on the child protection register moving between local authorities|| - Child is de-registered or |
- Child remains on register
3.6 Registrations - The children who were the subject of a child protection case conference and were subsequently added to the child protection register between 1 August 2011 and 31 July 2012.
3.7 De-registrations - Children who were subject to a transfer or review conference and subsequently removed from the child protection register between 1 August 2011 and 31 July 2012.
3.8 The National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland, published in 2010, is available here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2010/12/09134441/0
Secure care and close support accommodation
3.9 Secure accommodation legal framework - The children's hearings system has responsibility for dealing with most children and young people under 16 who commit offences or who are in need of care and protection. In some cases children's hearings have responsibility for young people under 18 where the young person is under the supervision of the hearing when he or she reaches 16 and the supervision requirement is extended.
3.10 For children who commit very grave crimes (the circumstances are set out in the relevant Lord Advocate's guidelines), the option remains for them to be jointly reported to the children's reporter and the procurator fiscal and together, they will decide whether prosecution through the court is appropriate. The court may then sentence, or return the young person to the hearing to be dealt with.
3.11 A young person who appears in court accused of an offence, where bail is not considered appropriate, can be remanded to the care of the local authority responsible for them under section 51 of the Criminal Procedures (Scotland) Act 1995. Local authorities are then responsible for placing that young person in secure care.
3.12 A young person convicted of an offence in court can be sentenced to detention in secure accommodation under section 205 or 208 of the Criminal Procedures (Scotland) Act 1995. In these cases, it is the responsibility of Scottish ministers to place the sentenced young person in suitable accommodation.
3.13 Before a child or young person can be placed in secure accommodation through the children's hearings system, the children's panel must consider that the young person meets the legal criteria set out in section 70(10) of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. That is:
(a) having previously absconded, is likely to abscond unless kept in secure accommodation, and, if he absconds, it is likely that his physical, mental or moral welfare will be at risk; or
(b) is likely to injure himself or some other person unless he is kept in such accommodation.
3.14 The recommendation of the children's panel must be authorised by the chief social work officer of the relevant local authority, which is then responsible for placing the young person.
3.15 Average number - The average number of young people in secure care accommodation over the year is calculated using the dates of admission and discharge for every child. Ages on admission, discharge during 2011-12 and age at 31 July 2012 are the actual ages for all young people.
3.16 Ethnicity and Religion - Data was collected on ethnicity and religion of young people in secure care and close support accommodation, but we are unable to publish this due to small numbers and data confidentiality issues.
3.17 Additional support needs - Additional support needs categories were based on ISD Health and Social Care Data Dictionary codes when the survey form was finalised in December 2007. Information was collected on types of additional support needs for young people in close support units during 2010-11, but we are unable to publish a detailed breakdown of additional support needs due to small numbers and data confidentiality issues.
3.18 Emergency beds - these can be used at short notice, for example, when a young person is admitted during the night as it is less disruptive for the other young people. The young person is usually admitted to the main facility the following day. Three units operated such a place.
3.19 Mothballed - The term mothballed was used when recommendation 6 from the Securing our Future Initiative report recommended the targeted closure of 12 beds to bring the capacity of each of the independent secure units down to 18 beds. Beds were mothballed for the first year with on-going review meaning provision was reduced although a group of key core staff were retained to provide emergency cover if there was ever a short term need to increase capacity.
Additional support needs
3.20 The information that was previously labelled as 'disability' does not meet the definition of disability outlined in the Equality Act 2010 and is more accurately described as additional support needs. For this reason the equivalent data that was labelled as 'disability' prior to 2011-12 will, from 2011-12 onwards, be presented as 'additional support needs'. The statistics themselves have not changed in any way - the content of the data and categories remain the same, so are still comparable over time.
Notation and rounding
3.21 The following notation is used in this publication
* In cases where information is presented on a small number of children and is potentially disclosive, indicates that data have been suppressed.
3.22 The sum of the breakdowns in the tables may not sum to the total displayed due to rounding.
4. Data Quality
4.1 The data for all three parts of this publication - looked after children, child protection and secure care - come from administrative data held by local authorities and secure units. As this information is used to monitor and manage these sectors it should be robust and accurate.
4.2 The Children and Families statistics team undertake a range of validation checks on administrative data as part of the quality assurance process of preparing this national statistics publication. These procedures include; trend analysis, comparing against other available sources, and checking outliers with data providers. The data providers are then asked to confirm their data - for looked after children and child protection data this confirmation comes from local authorities, for secure care accommodation this confirmation comes from secure units. In cases where concerns about data quality outweigh the value of have an estimated figure publically available, we would not publish particular information (e.g. legal reason data from the looked after children collection).
4.3 There is more information on the data quality of the administrative sources underlying this publication here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Children/sourcesandsuitability/StatementAdminSources
4.4 At the publication of the previous Children's Social Work Statistics (covering 2010-11) Glasgow were only able to provide a provisional set of summary aggregate tables in time for inclusion in the looked after children section of this publication. Since publishing the 2010-11 figures Glasgow have worked hard to provide accurate, full individual-level data for 2011-12 and to resolve the issues originally identified in 2010-11. This publication presents revised 2010-11 data which includes individual-level figures for Glasgow as well as revisions from other local authorities.
4.5 The revised Glasgow figures will allow more detailed information for 2010-11 than was available for publication in February 2012. There is a small trade-off between having more detailed information available and having complete data accuracy, particularly as the revised Glasgow figures were finalised at a later date when updates had been made to the system and further information was available. Despite this small impact on the accuracy of the revised 2010-11 figures, we believe them to be robust and comparable to other years. Additional tables giving more detailed information from 2010-11 will be available here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Children/PubChildrenSocialWork
4.6 Looked after children statistics for years prior to 2008-09 used data supplied by local authorities aggregated at a local authority level. Since 2008‑09, local authorities are reporting significant improvements in the quality of their data reporting as a result of the new individualised collection methodology. This should be borne in mind when performing cross-year comparisons.
4.7 Data collected on children in a current planned series of short-term placements was collected for those up to 21 years old for the first time in 2010-11. In previous years it was only collected for those up to 18 years. This change is intended to capture more complete information on the provision of short-term placements by local authorities by including those who were receiving a service but were over 18 years old.
4.8 From 2011-12, local authorities are requested to supply information on all legal reasons for a child being looked after (i.e. a child may have more than one legal reason at any time). While the quality of this information is improving it is still not being consistently recorded across local authorities. As a result, information on legal reasons is not contained within this publication but is available on request.
4.9 Previously, some local authorities did not place 'unborn' children on the child protection register until the child was actually born. The revised National Guidance now states that 'unborn' children should be placed on the child protection register if this is required and not wait until the child is born.
Secure care and close support accommodation
4.10 As the number of young people using secure care is very small, relative changes over time will show greater percentage changes than would be expected in children looked after or child protection.
4.11 Information was collected for the first time in 2011-12 to help monitor certain outcomes for the National Contract for Secure Care on:-
- 'Full medical assessment received (within one month of admission)' - this replaced 'General health discussion or advice received',
- 'Individualised Care/sentenced/remand plan completed (within one month of admission)',
- 'Individualised learning plan based on educational assessment completed' and
- 'Transition/pathway plan in place'.
However, as the contract for secure care continues to develop, this information has become less relevant to the annual collection. To reduce burden on units, we will not be collecting this information next year and did not follow up units to validate this information this year. Therefore, we will not be publishing information on this.
Information on secure authorisations turned down (which has been collected since 2008-09) was not published again due to inconsistencies in reporting, despite revised guidance notes and expanded categories over the years. We will not be collecting this information in future years.
4.12 This publication presents revised 2010-11 data for secure care and close support accommodation.
Cross UK comparisons
4.13 It is possible to draw comparisons between the looked after children, child protection and secure care accommodation statistics of the four UK countries. However it should be borne in mind that there are differences in legislation, the children's social work systems and the definitions of categories that will affect these figures.
4.14 Work has been undertaken between the Scottish Government and administrations from England, Wales and Northern Ireland to document clearly the differences between each administration's looked after children statistics and to scope out the feasibility and need for a comparable dataset. Further developments from this work have been published on the Scottish Government children's statistics web site at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Children/socialservicestats
4.15 Links to the cross UK looked after children statistics are available here.
4.16 Work was commissioned by the Department of Education to document clearly the differences between each administration's child protection statistics. Further developments from this work have been published on the Scottish Government Children's Statistics web site at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Children/socialservicestats
4.17 Similar cross-UK child protection statistics are available here:
4.18 The latest national statistics on children accommodated in secure children's homes in England and Wales were released on 24 July 2012 and can be found at http://www.education.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s001027/index.shtml.
Official/national statistics are not produced on secure accommodation in Northern Ireland. However, there is one secure unit which when at full capacity can house sixteen 11 to 18 year olds.
Please send any media enquiries to:
- Children Looked After/Child Protection: Mark Dunlop, 0131 244 3070
- Secure Care and Close Support: Ashley Duff, 0131 244 3073
Ruth Jays, 0131 244 3069
The information in this publication, additional tables on looked after children, child protection and secure care and close support accommodation and further breakdowns of the revised 2010-11 looked after children data are available at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Children/PubChildrenSocialWork
Email any requests for further analysis to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The third annual publication of Education Outcomes for Looked After Children statistics (covering 2011-12) will be available from June 2013 here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Children/EducOutcomesLAC
Email: Denise Macleod