Children's Social Work Statistics, Scotland 2020-21

Children's Social Work Statistics for Scotland for 2020 to 2021, including data on children and young people looked after, on the child protection register and in secure care accommodation.


What do these statistics include?

These statistics include data collected from 32 local authorities on children and young people who were formally Looked After and/or under Child Protection measures. Additionally, these statistics include data from 5 Secure Care units on children and young people who were in Secure Care Accommodation.

The figures relate to the year 1 August 2020 to 31 July 2021. This will be referred to as 2021 throughout for ease of reporting, with 2019-20 referred to as 2020, and so on. The ‘previous year’ refers to 2020 (i.e. 2019-20).

All data used to produce the charts is available in the supporting files accompanying the publication as well as additional tables.

Looked After Children

Children may become looked after for various reasons including: abuse or neglect at home, having complex disabilities requiring specialist care, or involvement in the youth justice system. The Each and Every Child Initiative aims to change how we speak about care experience. We know that children and young people with care experience do not like the phrase 'Looked After Children'. We are committed to improving our language around those with care experience. In this report, we use the current legal definition of ‘Looked After Children’ under the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 – broadly defined as those in the care of their local authority.

Child Protection

Child Protection refers to protecting a child from abuse or neglect. This process is usually initiated when police, social work, or health professionals determine that a child may have been abused or may be at risk of significant harm. If a child is believed to be at risk of significant harm, their name will be added to the Child Protection Register.

Secure Care Accommodation

Secure Care Accommodation refers to a type of residential care that restricts the freedom of vulnerable children under the age of 18 who may be a significant risk to themselves or others in the community. A Secure Care placement can only be authorised following a decision through the Children’s Hearing System or Court, or as an emergency placement for up to 72 hours before attending a hearing or court.

Children and young people in these figures include those referred to the Children’s Reporter, those for whom a concern was raised about a child (related to abuse or neglect) which led to a child protection investigation, those who become voluntarily looked after, and those who commit an offence. Most referrals to the Children’s Reporter come from partner agencies, such as the police, social work, and education. Additionally, parents, family members, carers, or members of the public can also make a referral. Figure 1 provides a broad illustration of these main routes.

Figure 1. Children included in these figures

Route 1: Child protection concern reported To investigation To case conference To registration on the child protection register Followed BY regular reviews until de-registration.

Route 2: Referral To children’s reporter To investigation To children’s hearing To compulsory supervision order To Either

a. Looked after at home Followed BY continuing care and aftercare services, OR

b. Looked after away from home (accommodated), Followed BY continuing care and aftercare services, OR

c. Compulsory supervision order with secure care accommodation authorisation Followed BY secure care.

Route 3: Offence committed To young person prosecuted To remand/alternatives To remand To sentence To cusTodial To Scottish prison service.



Back to top