Publication - Statistics

Children's social work statistics: 2019 to 2020

Children's social work statistics for Scotland for 2019 to 2020, including data on children and young people looked after, on the child protection register and in secure care.

Contents
Children's social work statistics: 2019 to 2020
Child Protection

Child Protection

Number of children on the child protection register increased by 3%, but is lower than the peak in 2014

There was a decrease in the number of child protection registrations and deregistrations in the last year, by 8% and 9% respectively

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 2019 to 31 July 2020. This will be referred to as 2020 for ease of reporting (with 2018-19 referred to as 2019 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 eighth year that child protection data has been collected entirely at individual level.

Children on the child protection register

The number of children on the child protection register increased from 2,580 in 2019 to 2,654 in 2020 (a 3% increase). There was a general upward trend in the number of children on the child protection register, until 2014 when the number peaked at 2,877. However, the number on the register then reduced in each of the next four years, before rising again slightly in 2019 and 2020.

As is usual, the number of children on the register in 2020 will be revised in next year's publication, as updated information is received from local authorities. This report includes revised figures in 2019 for all local authorities.

Chart 4: Number of Children on the child protection register by age, 2000 - 2020 (1)
This chart compares the number of children on the child protection register by age 2000-2020

Between 2008 and 2018, there were more children aged under five than five or over on the child protection register. This changed in 2019, with just over half of children being aged five or over. In 2020, again around half of children on the child protection register were aged under five (1,325) and half were 5 or over (1,329).

There is no strong gender pattern among children on the child protection register – 47% were boys, 48% were girls, and 5% 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.

Table 2.1: Number of children on the child protection register, by gender (1)
Number Percentage
2011 2019 2020 2011 2019 2020
Male 1,282 1,358 1,260 50% 53% 47%
Female 1,209 1,224 1,271 47% 47% 48%
Unborns 80 97 123 3% 4% 5%
All Children 2,571 2,580 2,654 100% 100% 100%

(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 2,654 children on the child protection register at 31 July 2020, there were 7,315 concerns at the case conferences at which they were registered – an average of 2.8 concerns per conference. Chart 6 below shows the most common concerns identified were domestic (1,132) and emotional (1,028) abuse, neglect (1,112), and parental substance misuse (1,135). The parental substance misuse category is further broken down by the type of substance misused. Alcohol misuse only was identified as a concern in 333 conferences, drug misuse only in 536 conferences and both in 266 conferences. Figures are shown in full in Additional Table 4.3.

Chart 5: Concerns identified at the case conferences of children who were on the child protection register, 2020
This summarises the types of concerns identified at case conferences for children on the child protection register

Child protection registrations and deregistrations

The number of registrations to the child protection register decreased by 8% between 2019 and 2020. The proportion of children registered who had never been registered before stayed at 80% in 2020 (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 was those who had been previously registered 2 years ago or more, with this group making up 11% of all registrations in 2020.

Table 2.2: Number of registrations following an initial, pre-birth or transfer-in case conference by length of time since previous deregistration
Number Percentage
Time since last deregistration 2010 2019 2020 2010 2019 2020
Never been registered before 2,971 3,427 3,163 84% 80% 80%
Registered before but time unknown 0 0 0 0% 0% 0%
Less than 6 months 81 99 104 2% 2% 3%
6 months - < 1 year 98 104 81 3% 2% 2%
1 year - < 18 months 67 107 89 2% 2% 2%
18 months - < 2 years 60 96 59 2% 2% 1%
2 years or more 269 456 446 8% 11% 11%
Not known if been registered before 5 6 15 0% 0% 0%
Total 3,551 4,295 3,957 100% 100% 100%

(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, by length of time registered and reason for deregistration. There were 3,879 deregistrations from the child protection register in the year to 31 July 2020, a 9% decrease from the 4,245 recorded in 2019. The most common reason for deregistration in 2020 was an improved home situation, recorded in 53% of cases. In almost half (48%) of deregistrations, the child had been on the child protection register for less than 6 months, and in 86% of cases for less than one year.

Table 2.3: Length of time registered and reason for deregistration from the child protection register (1)
Number Percentage
Time since last deregistration 2010 2019 2020 2010 2019 2020
Length of time registered
Less than 6 months 1,592 2,149 1,856 42% 51% 48%
6 months to under 1 year 1,483 1,551 1,464 39% 37% 38%
1 year to under 18 months 460 356 362 12% 8% 9%
18 months to under 2 years 168 103 101 4% 2% 3%
2 years or more 123 43 55 3% 1% 1%
No date of registration information 0 43 41 0% 1% 1%
Reason for deregistration 0 0
Child taken into care & risk reduced 538 500 465 14% 12% 12%
Child with other carers 275 307 312 7% 7% 8%
Child died * 11 9 * 0% 0%
Removal of perpetrator 81 144 123 2% 3% 3%
Improved home situation 1,220 2,227 2,074 32% 52% 53%
Child automatically deregistered because of age 8 12 6 0% 0% 0%
Child moved away - no continued risk 26 37 30 1% 1% 1%
Other reason 1,674 1,007 860 44% 24% 22%
Reason not known 0 0 0 0% 100% 0%
Total 3,822 4,245 3,879 100% 100% 100%

(1) Includes where a child transferred to another local authority and where reason has not been recorded.

Charts 6a and 6b show the number of children being registered on and deregistered from the child protection register in each of the last two years by month. While the number of deregistrations relative to the number of registrations has fluctuated across each of the last two years, and the patterns are broadly similar in each year, the number of deregistrations reached its lowest level over the two years in April 2020 at 225. The second lowest level of deregistrations over the two year period was recorded in July 2020.

In 2019-20, the numbers of registrations and deregistrations were lower than in 2018-19 in the period August to March (prior to the COVID-19 pandemic) by 9% and 7% respectively. For the remainder of the year, the numbers were lower than in the equivalent period the previous year by 5% and 13%.

Chart 6a: Child Protection registrations and deregistrations by month, 2019 20
This shows the number of child protection registrations and deregistrations by month in 2019-20
Chart 6b: Child Protection registrations and deregistrations by month, 2018 19
This shows the number of child protection registrations and deregistrations by month in 2018-19

Chart 7 shows that, since 2015, the percentage of deregistrations of children who spent less than six months on the child protection register increased each year till 2019, peaking at 51%. The current figure has fallen back to 48% of deregistrations in 2019-20. There has been a corresponding increase in the last year in the proportion of deregistrations for children who spent 6 months or more on the child protection register, with 38% of deregistrations in 2019-20 being of children who spent between 6 months and a year on the child protection register.

Chart 7: Percentage of deregistrations by length of time on Child Protection Register, 2007 2020
This shows the length of time spent on the child protection register by children discharged

Child Protection Register Geographical Comparisons

Number on the register within Scotland

Table 2.4 shows the number and rate of children under 16 who were on the child protection register in Scotland in July 2020 by local authority. The rate varied from 0.5 per 1,000 children in the East Renfrewshire to 6.1 per 1,000 children in North 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.

Table 2.4: Number of children on the child protection register and rate per 1,000 population aged 0-15 by local authority

 

2010 2019 2020
Local authority Number on Register Rate(1,2) Number on Register Rate(1,2) Number on Register Rate(1,2)
Aberdeen City 119 3.7 119 3.4 142 4.0
Aberdeenshire 51 1.1 103 2.1 111 2.3
Angus 92 4.5 45 2.4 36 1.9
Argyll and Bute 43 2.9 28 2.2 49 3.8
City of Edinburgh 256 3.6 122 1.5 95 1.2
Clackmannanshire 56 5.9 24 2.7 41 4.6
Dumfries and Galloway 100 3.9 18 0.8 26 1.1
Dundee City 70 2.9 90 3.7 102 4.2
East Ayrshire 42 1.9 100 4.7 78 3.7
East Dunbartonshire 28 1.5 55 2.8 37 1.9
East Lothian 70 3.8 48 2.4 52 2.6
East Renfrewshire 31 1.7 15 0.8 9 0.5
Falkirk 73 2.6 124 4.4 142 5.1
Fife 220 3.4 205 3.2 147 2.3
Glasgow City 286 3.0 415 4.1 420 4.2
Highland 99 2.4 91 2.3 129 3.3
Inverclyde 35 2.5 47 3.7 61 4.8
Midlothian 96 6.2 49 2.7 49 2.7
Moray 44 2.6 47 2.9 31 1.9
Na h-Eileanan Siar * * * * * *
North Ayrshire 60 2.4 104 4.6 137 6.1
North Lanarkshire 63 1.0 162 2.6 118 1.9
Orkney Islands * * * * 10 2.8
Perth and Kinross 49 1.9 78 3.2 95 3.9
Renfrewshire 119 3.9 83 2.7 98 3.2
Scottish Borders 32 1.6 46 2.4 34 1.8
Shetland Islands 10 2.2 12 2.9 * *
South Ayrshire 43 2.3 37 2.1 29 1.6
South Lanarkshire 135 2.4 116 2.1 160 2.9
Stirling 43 2.7 42 2.7 46 3.0
West Dunbartonshire 27 1.6 44 2.8 66 4.2
West Lothian 119 3.4 104 2.9 92 2.6
Scotland 2,518 2.7 2,580 2.8 2,654 2.9

(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

Number of child protection investigations within Scotland

A child protection investigation is a joint[4] investigation launched following an Inter-agency Referral Discussion in order to determine if any child protection action is needed and whether a child protection case conference should be held.

Data on child protection investigations has been published for the first time in Table 2.5. The rate of child protection investigations varied from 1.2 in East Renfrewshire to 39.7 per 1,000 children in Clackmannanshire.

The number of initial and pre-birth child protection case conferences and registrations from these is also shown; for those with an investigation recorded within 90 days prior to case conference, the child's progression through the child protection process from investigation to case conference and potentially registration can be followed.

However, there were 733 out of 4,978 total initial and pre-birth case conferences where no investigation was recorded within 90 days prior to case conference; this suggests that the investigations for these conferences may be missing from the figures shown. There may be other legitimate reasons for the investigation not being within 90 days prior to case conference.

Table 2.5: Number of child protection investigations, initial and pre-birth case conferences, registrations from these conferences and rates per 1,000 population aged 0-15 by local authority, 2019-20 (1),(2)
Child protection investigations Child protection initial and pre-birth case conferences Child protection registrations from initial and pre-birth case conferences
Local authority Number(3) Rate(2) Number with an investigation recorded within 90 days of case conference Number with no investigation recorded within 90 days of case conference(4) Total Rate(2) Number with an investigation recorded within 90 days of case conference Number with no investigation recorded within 90 days of case conference(3) Total Rate(2)
Aberdeen City 269 7.6 183 3 186 5.3 156 3 159 4.5
Aberdeenshire 408 8.3 144 14 158 3.2 134 13 147 3.0
Angus 266 13.9 50 70 120 6.3 38 62 100 5.2
Argyll and Bute 114 8.8 39 36 75 5.8 38 29 67 5.2
City of Edinburgh 1,026 13.0 159 30 189 2.4 143 26 169 2.1
Clackmannanshire 355 39.7 70 37 107 12.0 47 22 69 7.7
Dumfries and Galloway 383 16.5 57 11 68 2.9 32 9 41 1.8
Dundee City 698 29.0 128 29 157 6.5 127 29 156 6.5
East Ayrshire 384 18.2 211 15 226 10.7 139 8 147 7.0
East Dunbartonshire 170 8.8 79 8 87 4.5 40 7 47 2.4
East Lothian 360 18.3 55 14 69 3.5 50 9 59 3.0
East Renfrewshire 23 1.2 20 0 20 1.0 19 0 19 1.0
Falkirk 459 16.3 181 8 189 6.7 150 5 155 5.5
Fife 892 13.8 317 1 318 4.9 282 1 283 4.4
Glasgow City 1,740 17.3 654 3 657 6.5 449 2 451 4.5
Highland 412 10.6 22 145 167 4.3 20 136 156 4.0
Inverclyde 125 9.9 94 28 122 9.7 76 19 95 7.5
Midlothian 567 31.6 92 20 112 6.2 76 18 94 5.2
Moray 240 14.9 27 23 50 3.1 23 17 40 2.5
Na h-Eileanan Siar 15 3.5 3 23 26 6.1 1 8 9 2.1
North Ayrshire 430 19.1 295 1 296 13.2 243 1 244 10.9
North Lanarkshire 720 11.5 271 15 286 4.6 208 10 218 3.5
Orkney Islands 67 18.7 13 1 14 3.9 10 1 11 3.1
Perth and Kinross 303 12.4 112 16 128 5.2 102 15 117 4.8
Renfrewshire 405 13.4 224 1 225 7.4 136 0 136 4.5
Scottish Borders 118 6.2 39 5 44 2.3 32 5 37 1.9
Shetland Islands 96 22.9 10 5 15 3.6 8 3 11 2.6
South Ayrshire 157 8.9 63 0 63 3.6 46 0 46 2.6
South Lanarkshire 699 12.6 366 35 401 7.2 252 23 275 4.9
Stirling 100 6.5 0 52 52 3.4 0 50 50 3.2
West Dunbartonshire 241 15.4 114 29 143 9.1 72 6 78 5.0
West Lothian 692 19.5 153 55 208 5.9 114 49 163 4.6
Scotland 12,934 14.0 4,245 733 4,978 5.4 3,263 586 3,849 4.2

(1) Per 1,000 population aged 0-15. Source: National Records of Scotland, mid-year 2019 population estimates.
(2) The rate shown in this table includes unborn children who are on the register
(3) Includes 135 child protection investigations that took place prior to 1 August 2019 (in 2018-19) where the resulting case conference took place on or after 1 August 2019 (in 2019-20).
(4) Case conferences with no investigation recorded within 90 days are cases where no investigation was recorded in the data provided to Scottish Government in the 90 days preceding the case conference.

Cross-UK child protection comparisons

Child protection systems across the United Kingdom vary but are generally comparable. Scotland's data 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). In Chart 8, we report the Scotland figures at the 31st March to allow better comparison with the other countries.

Chart 8: Cross UK comparison of rate of children on the child protection register per 10,000 under 18s, 2004 2020
This shows the proportion of children on the child protection register in the four nations in the UK

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 on the Scottish Government website.

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.

Children's social work statistics - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)


Contact

Email: childrens.statistics@gov.scot