What are the trends in other children's social work data?
Between 2007 and 2017 the number of children who are looked after or on the child protection register increased by 5%, whereas the number of children and young people referred to the Children's Reporter decreased by 73% (Chart 7). The decrease is the result of falls in both the number of offence and non-offence referrals. Offence referrals now account for 18% of all referrals, down from 27% in 2006/07.
Chart 7: Children Referred to the Children's Reporter and numbers looked after/on child protection register, 2004-2017
The fall in referrals to the Reporter is likely to be due to pre-referral screening across many areas of the country. This has led to a reduction in referrals received by the Reporter where compulsory measures are not deemed necessary; and a proportionate increase in referrals where they are deemed necessary.
The historic increase in the number of children who are looked after or on the child protection register at a time when referrals are falling, means that the smaller number of referrals being received by the Reporter are potentially of a more complex nature and are more likely to result in being looked after or on the child protection register than in previous years. The continuing decline in numbers of children who are both looked after and on the child protection register seen since 2012 could be linked to the fall in referrals feeding through to the later stages of the social work system - however, the rate of decline has slowed, so this effect may not be particularly pronounced.
Are these figures accurate?
The data are high quality and validated both by local authorities and Scottish Government. There may be minor amendments to the 2017 data in future years as records are updated, but this is unlikely to affect the overall trends. There is more information on data quality in the background notes.