What are the trends in other children's social work data?
Between 2004 to 2015 - a period in which the number of children who are looked after or on the child protection register has increased by 30 per cent - the number of children and young people referred to the Reporter decreased by close to 66 per cent. The decrease is the result of falls in both the number of offence and non-offence referrals. Offence referrals now only account for 17 per cent all referrals, down from 33 per cent in 2003/04. As with the looked after and child protection statistics, younger children make up an increasing proportion of referrals.
The fall in referrals to the Reporter is likely due to pre-referral screening across many areas of the country leading 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 end up 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 now starting to feed through to the later stages of the social work system.
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 2014-15 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.
Email: Ian Volante