Publication - Statistics

Children's Social Work Statistics Scotland, 2018-2019

The latest data on children and young people looked after, on the child protection register and in secure care.

45 page PDF

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45 page PDF

1.3 MB

Contents
Children's Social Work Statistics Scotland, 2018-2019
Child Protection

45 page PDF

1.3 MB

Child Protection

  • Number of children on the child protection register decreased slightly in 2019, and 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 decreased from 2,688 in 2018 to 2,599 in 2019 (a 3% decrease). 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 have 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 has not been done for the 2018 figures in this publication, as these revisions will be made later in the year at the same time as the data for Glasgow City is incorporated. (See background note/coverage). It should be noted that relatively large year-on-year changes are experienced in a number of local authorities (see Table 2.4 for local authority level breakdowns).

Chart 3: Number of children on the child protection register at 31 July, by age, 2000-2019(1)
Chart 3: Number of children on the child protection register at 31 July, by age, 2000-2019(1)

(1) Data for 2018 is estimated by using 2017 figures for Glasgow City and 2018 figures for all other 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 an estimated 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.

Table 2.1: Number of children on the child protection register by gender(1,2)
Number Percentage
2009 2018 2019 2009 2018 2019
Boys 1,357 1,333 1,342 51 49 51
Girls 1,287 1,279 1,210 48 48 46
Unborns 38 107 98 1 4 4
All children 2,682 2,668 2,599 100 100 100

(1) Data for 2018 is estimated by using 2017 figures for Glasgow City and 2018 figures for all other local authorities. The figures for 2017-18 will be revised during 2020 following receipt of data from Glasgow City.
(2) 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 estimated 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.

Chart 4: Concerns identified at the case conferences of children who were on the child protection register, 2019
Chart 4: Concerns identified at the case conferences of children who were on the child protection register, 2019

Child protection registrations and deregistrations

The number of registrations to the child protection register decreased by 1% between 2018 and 2019. The proportion of children registered who had never been registered before fell to an estimated 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.

Table 2.2: Number of registrations following an initial, pre-birth or transfer-in case conference by length of time since previous deregistration(1)
Time since last deregistration Number Percentage
2009 2018 2019 2009 2018 2019
Never been registered before 3,103 3,564 3,425 86 82 80
Registered before but time unknown 0 0 0 0 0 0
Less than 6 months 68 86 99 2 2 2
6 months - < 1 year 78 108 104 2 2 2
1 year - < 18 months 94 71 107 3 2 2
18 months - < 2 years 54 58 96 1 1 2
2 years or more 231 433 456 6 10 11
Not known if been registered before 0 7 6 0 0 0
Proportion of registrations to children who had been registered before(2) 14% 18% 20% N/A N/A N/A
Total 3,628 4,327 4,293 100 100 100

(1) Data for 2018 is estimated by using 2017 figures for Glasgow City and 2018 figures for all other local authorities. The figures for 2017-18 will be revised during 2020 following receipt of data from Glasgow City.
(2) 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 an estimated 4,224 deregistrations from the child protection register in the year to 31 July 2019, a small decrease from the 4,365 recorded in 2018. The most common reason for deregistration in 2019 was an improved home situation, recorded in 53% of cases.

Table 2.3: Length of time registered and reason for deregistration from the child protection register(1,3)
Number Percentage
2009 2018 2019 2009 2018 2019
Length of time registered
Less than 6 months 1498 2128 2074 43 49 49
6 months to under 1 year 1178 1555 1452 34 36 34
1 year to under 18 months 447 515 306 13 12 7
18 months to under 2 years 197 119 106 6 3 3
2 years or more 179 47 66 5 1 2
No date of registration information 0 1 220 0 0 5
Reason for de-registration(2)
Child taken into care & risk reduced 536 531 497 15 12 12
Child with other carers 295 327 307 8 7 7
Child died 6 10 6 0 0 0
Removal of perpetrator 82 153 144 2 4 3
Improved home situation 1195 2419 2223 34 55 53
Child automatically de-registered because of age 16 8 12 0 0 0
Child moved away - no continued risk 33 25 37 1 1 1
Other reason 1336 892 998 38 20 24
Reason not known - 0 0 - 0 0
Total 3,499 4,365 4,224 100 100 100

(1) Data for 2018 is estimated by using 2017 figures for Glasgow City and 2018 figures for all other local authorities. The figures for 2017-18 will be revised during 2020 following receipt of data from Glasgow City.
(2) Includes where a child transferred to another local authority and where reason has not been recorded.
(3) There are more cases than usual with no date of registration in 2019 as these are cases registered in Glasgow City in the previous year. This data will be revised during 2020.

Chart 5 shows that since 2015, the percentage of deregistrations of children who spent 6 months to under 1 year on the child protection register has decreased each year to the current figure of 34% of deregistrations. There has been a corresponding increase over this period in the proportion of deregistrations for children who spent less than 6 months on the child protection register. These figures will be slight underestimates due to a higher than usual number with missing registration dates. The data will be revised later in the year.

Chart 5: Percentage of deregistrations by length of time on Child Protection Register. 2007-2019(1,2)
Chart 5: Percentage of deregistrations by length of time on Child Protection Register. 2007-2019 (1,2)

(1) Data for 2018 is estimated by using 2017 figures for Glasgow City and 2018 figures for all other local authorities.
(2) These figures for 2019 will be slight underestimates due to a higher than usual number with missing registration dates. These are mostly cases registered in 2018 in Glasgow City These figures will be revised later in the year.

Child Protection Register Geographical Comparisons

Within Scotland

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 0.7 per 1,000 children in the East Renfrewshire to 4.1 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.

Table 2.4: Number of children on the child protection register and rate per 1,000 population aged 0-15 by local authority(1)
2009 2018 2019
Local authority Number on Register Rate(2,3) Number on Register Rate(2,3) Number on Register Rate(2,3)
Aberdeen City 182 5.6 68 1.9 119 3.4
Aberdeenshire 81 1.7 77 1.5 103 2.1
Angus 82 4.0 64 3.3 45 2.3
Argyll and Bute 32 2.1 31 2.4 28 2.1
City of Edinburgh 287 4.1 190 2.4 122 1.6
Clackmannanshire 58 6.0 36 4.0 25 2.8
Dumfries and Galloway 79 3.1 94 4.0 25 1.1
Dundee City 95 4.0 73 3.0 91 3.8
East Ayrshire 75 3.4 127 5.9 98 4.6
East Dunbartonshire 27 1.4 57 3.0 55 2.9
East Lothian 84 4.5 36 1.9 55 2.8
East Renfrewshire 29 1.6 9 0.5 15 0.8
Falkirk 93 3.3 88 3.1 125 4.4
Fife 191 3.0 176 2.7 209 3.2
Glasgow City(4) 299 3.1 - - 414 4.1
Highland 69 1.7 83 2.1 91 2.3
Inverclyde 42 2.9 31 2.4 48 3.8
Midlothian 90 5.8 45 2.6 49 2.8
Moray 66 3.9 62 3.7 47 2.9
Na h-Eileanan Siar 23 4.9 * * 4 0.9
North Ayrshire 56 2.2 155 6.7 104 4.6
North Lanarkshire 74 1.1 95 1.5 162 2.6
Orkney Islands 4 1.1 * * 3 0.8
Perth and Kinross 43 1.7 76 3.1 78 3.2
Renfrewshire 126 4.0 103 3.4 83 2.8
Scottish Borders 47 2.3 50 2.6 46 2.4
Shetland Islands 11 2.5 8 1.9 12 2.9
South Ayrshire 31 1.6 44 2.5 37 2.1
South Lanarkshire 117 2.1 184 3.3 116 2.1
Stirling 50 3.1 56 3.6 42 2.7
West Dunbartonshire 31 1.9 54 3.4 44 2.8
West Lothian 108 3.1 82 2.3 104 2.9
Scotland 2,682 2.9 2,668 2.9 2,599 2.8

(1) Data for 2018 was not provided in 2018. The figures for 2017-18 will be revised during 2020 following receipt of data from Glasgow City.
(2) Per 1,000 population aged 0-15. Source: National Records of Scotland, 2007-2018 mid-year population estimates and population projections for 2019.
(3) 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.

Chart 6: Cross-UK comparison of rate of children on the child protection register per 10,000 under 18s, 2004-2019
Chart 6: Cross-UK comparison of rate of children on the child protection register per 10,000 under 18s, 2004-2019

(1) Data for Scotland for 2018 is estimated by using 2017 figures for Glasgow City and 2018 figures for all other local authorities

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


Contact

Email: childrens.statistics@gov.scot