Information

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.

This document is part of a collection


Child Protection

Children on the Child Protection Register

↓ The number of children on the Child Protection Register decreased by 20% since the previous year.

2,104 children were on the Child Protection Register – the lowest figure since 2002 (Chart 4).

Chart 4: Number of children on the Child Protection Register by age, 2000-2021
Although these patterns fluctuate from year to year, broadly, this shows that: In 2021, the overall number of children on the child protection register was the lowest since 2002. In 2021, the number of children on the child protection register under the age of 5 was the lowest since 2006. In 2021, the number of children on the child protection register aged 5 and over is the lowest it’s been since 2000.

Characteristics of children on the Child Protection Register

Table 2.1: Children on the Child Protection Register by sex, 2011-2021
Number Percentage
2011 2020 2021 2011 2020 2021
Male 1,282 1,256 1,014 50% 48% 48%
Female 1,209 1,261 985 47% 48% 47%
Unborns[1] 80 124 105 3% 5% 5%
All Children 2,571 2,641 2,104 100% 100% 100%

[1] Unborn children include some children with a known sex and those with an unknown sex. Please refer to Publication Table 2.1 for breakdowns of these.

Child Protection Case Conferences

In total, 6,374 concerns were identified at Child Protection Case Conferences. Of all concerns identified, the most common concerns were: domestic abuse (16%), neglect (15%), parental mental health problems (15%), parental substance use (15%), and emotional abuse (12%; Chart 5).

52% were below the age of 5 years

48% were aged 5+ years

48% were male

47% were female

Chart 5: Concerns identified [1] at Case Conferences of children on the Child Protection Register, 2021
Of all concerns identified, the order of the most  to least common concerns were as follows: domestic abuse, neglect, parental mental health problems, parental substance use,  emotional abuse, non-engaging family, physical abuse, other concers, sexual abuse, child sexual exploitation, child placing self at risk, and child exploitation.

[1] Multiple concerns can be recorded (rather than just the main category of concern). This means that the total number of concerns will be greater than the total number of registrations.

[2] We are aware of ongoing change in terminology – from ‘Child Protection Case Conferences’ to ‘Child Protection Planning Meetings’. We are committed to implementing this change in future reports, but will refer to ‘Case Conferences’ here to reflect the terminology used during the time spanning the 2021 collection period.

Child Protection registrations and de-registrations

Registrations

↓ The number of child protection registrations decreased by 13% since 2020.

80% of registrations were for children who had never been registered before, the same as the proportion in 2020 (Table 2.2).

20% of registrations were for children who had been registered before. As in 2020, 11% of all registrations were for children previously registered two years ago or more.

Table 2.2: Number of registrations following an initial, pre-birth or transfer-in Case Conference by length of time since previous de-registration
Time since last deregistration Number Percentage
2010 2020 2021 2010 2020 2021
Never been registered before 2,971 3,166 2,753 84% 80% 80%
Registered before but time unknown 0 0 0 0% 0% 0%
Less than 6 months 81 104 75 2% 3% 2%
6 months to under 1 year 98 81 80 3% 2% 2%
1 year to under 18 months 67 89 92 2% 2% 3%
18 months to under 2 years 60 59 67 2% 1% 2%
2 years or more 269 446 363 8% 11% 11%
Unknown if child registered before 5 22 24 0% 1% 1%
Total 3,551 3,967 3,454 100% 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.

De-registrations

↑ The number of de-registrations increased by 2% since 2020.

56% of de-registrations were due to improved home situation (Table 2.3).

81% of de-registrations were for children who were on the Child Protection Register for less than one year.

Table 2.3: Number of de-registrations by length of time on register and reason for de-registration [1]

Length of time registered
Number Percentage
2010 2020 2021 2010 2020 2021
Less than 6 months 1,592 1,866 1,826 42% 48% 46%
6 months to under 1 year 1,483 1,479 1,386 39% 38% 35%
1 year to under 18 months 460 363 443 12% 9% 11%
18 months to under 2 years 168 101 158 4% 3% 4%
2 years or more 123 55 74 3% 1% 2%
No date of registration information 0 38 98 0% 1% 2%
Reason for deregistration
Number Percentage
2010 2020 2021 2010 2020 2021
Child taken into care & risk reduced 538 477 404 14% 12% 10%
Child with other carers 275 312 288 7% 8% 7%
Child died 4 10 6 0% 0% 0%
Removal of perpetrator 81 123 139 2% 3% 3%
Improved home situation 1,220 2,083 2,229 32% 53% 56%
Child automatically de-registered because of age 8 6 7 0% 0% 0%
Child moved away - no continued risk 26 31 13 1% 1% 0%
Other reason 1,674 860 899 44% 22% 23%
Reason not known 0 0 0 0% 0% 0%
Total 3,826 3,902 3,985 100% 100% 100%

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

Comparisons with previous years

Monthly breakdowns of the number of children registered and de-registered from the Child Protection Register in 2020 and 2021 are provided in Chart 6. May 2021 saw the lowest number of registrations (n=211), while April 2020 saw the lowest number of de-registrations (n=225) from the Child Protection Register. While the pattern over these last two years is unclear, there was greater disparity between the number of registrations and de-registrations observed in 2021 where, during most months, the number of de-registrations was greater than the number of registrations.

Chart 6: Child Protection registrations and de-registrations by month, 2019-20 and 2020-21

Since 2015, the percentage of de-registrations of children spending less than six months on the Register increased, peaking in 2019 (51%), followed by a decrease in 2020 (48%). This year saw a further decrease in the proportion of de-registrations of children spending less than six months on the Register (Chart 7).

Chart 7: Percentage of de-registrations by length of time on the Child Protection Register, 2007-2021
Although these patterns fluctuate from year to year, broadly, this shows that: The greatest proportion of children de-registered had been registered for less than 6 months. The lowest proportion of children de-registered had been registered for 2 years or more. In 2021 there was a decrease in in the proportion of de-registrations of children spending one year or less on the Register, when compared to the previous year. In 2021 there was an increase in in the proportion of de-registrations of children spending more than a year on the Register, when compared to the previous year.

Geographical comparisons

Children on the Child Protection Register within Scotland

The Local Authority breakdowns of children on the Child Protection Register in Scotland are shown in Table 2.4. The rate of children on the Child Protection Register ranged from 0.4 per 1,000 children aged 0-15 years in East Renfrewshire to 5.2 per 1,000 in North Ayrshire.

Please note that there is substantial 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 [1],[2]
Local authority 2010 2020 2021
Number Rate[1],[2] Number Rate[1],[2] Number Rate[1],[2]
Aberdeen City 119 3.7 142 4.0 83 2.3
Aberdeenshire 51 1.1 111 2.3 73 1.5
Angus 92 4.5 35 1.9 25 1.3
Argyll and Bute 43 2.9 49 3.9 32 2.5
City of Edinburgh 256 3.6 95 1.2 97 1.2
Clackmannanshire 56 5.9 43 4.8 41 4.6
Dumfries and Galloway 100 3.9 26 1.1 34 1.5
Dundee City 70 2.9 102 4.3 84 3.5
East Ayrshire 42 1.9 75 3.6 71 3.4
East Dunbartonshire 28 1.5 37 1.9 23 1.2
East Lothian 70 3.8 45 2.3 29 1.5
East Renfrewshire 31 1.7 9 0.5 8 0.4
Falkirk 73 2.6 142 5.1 101 3.6
Fife 220 3.4 147 2.3 152 2.4
Glasgow City 286 3.0 413 4.1 282 2.8
Highland 99 2.4 129 3.4 96 2.5
Inverclyde 35 2.5 61 4.9 31 2.5
Midlothian 96 6.2 49 2.7 38 2.1
Moray 44 2.6 31 1.9 35 2.2
Na h-Eileanan Siar * * 3 0.7 5 1.2
North Ayrshire 60 2.4 136 6.1 115 5.2
North Lanarkshire 63 1.0 118 1.9 117 1.9
Orkney Islands * * 9 2.5 * *
Perth and Kinross 49 1.9 95 3.9 66 2.7
Renfrewshire 119 3.9 98 3.2 71 2.4
Scottish Borders 32 1.6 34 1.8 34 1.8
Shetland Islands 10 2.2 9 2.2 8 1.9
South Ayrshire 43 2.3 29 1.7 19 1.1
South Lanarkshire 135 2.4 157 2.8 116 2.1
Stirling 43 2.7 53 3.5 56 3.7
West Dunbartonshire 27 1.6 67 4.3 57 3.7
West Lothian 119 3.4 92 2.6 103 2.9
Scotland 2,518 2.7 2,641 2.9 2,104 2.3

[1] Per 1,000 population aged 0-15 years. Source: National Records of Scotland mid-year population estimates.

[2] The rate shown in this table includes unborn children who are on the register.

Child Protection Investigations within Scotland

A Child Protection Investigation refers to a joint investigation between social work, police and health services (as well as any other relevant agencies). The purpose of the investigation is to determine whether any child protection action is needed and whether a Case Conference should be held.

Local Authority breakdowns relating to Child Protection Investigations in Scotland are shown in Table 2.5. The rate of Child Protection Investigations ranged between 0.6 per 1,000 in East Renfrewshire and 33.2 per 1,000 in Clackmannanshire.

Table 2.5 also provides Local Authority breakdowns relating to initial and pre-birth Case Conferences, as well as the number of registrations arising as a result of these. The rate of initial and pre-birth Case Conferences ranged between 0.9 per 1,000 in East Renfrewshire to 12.6 per 1,000 in North Ayrshire.

The rate of registrations from these initial and pre-birth Case Conferences ranged between 0.9 per 1,000 in East Renfrewshire to 10.7 per 1,000 in North Ayrshire.

Notably, for 664 out of 4,397 total initial and pre-birth Case Conferences (15%), no investigation was recorded within 90 days prior to the Case Conference. This suggests that the investigations for these may be missing from the figures shown. There may be other legitimate reasons for the investigation not being within 90 days prior to the Case Conference.

Table 2.5: Number and rate per 1,000 of Child Protection Investigations, initial and pre-birth Case Conferences, and associated registrations by local authority, 2020-21 [1],[2]
Local authority Child Protection Investigations Initial and pre-birth Case Conferences
Total Rate[1],[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[1],[2]
Aberdeen City 199 5.6 154 2 156 4.4
Aberdeenshire 400 8.2 100 2 102 2.1
Angus 238 12.6 36 73 109 5.8
Argyll and Bute 97 7.7 28 26 54 4.3
City of Edinburgh 818 10.3 145 49 194 2.5
Clackmannanshire 295 33.2 82 12 94 10.6
Dumfries and Galloway 269 11.7 67 17 84 3.6
Dundee City 730 30.5 140 7 147 6.1
East Ayrshire 344 16.5 175 2 177 8.5
East Dunbartonshire 192 9.8 84 4 88 4.5
East Lothian 451 22.9 40 14 54 2.7
East Renfrewshire 12 0.6 10 8 18 0.9
Falkirk 393 14.1 132 19 151 5.4
Fife 905 14.1 289 0 289 4.5
Glasgow City 1,171 11.7 545 0 545 5.4
Highland 350 9.1 6 102 108 2.8
Inverclyde 171 13.8 88 26 114 9.2
Midlothian 501 27.7 103 0 103 5.7
Moray 258 16.1 32 21 53 3.3
Na h-Eileanan Siar 42 10.2 39 3 42 10.2
North Ayrshire 454 20.4 281 0 281 12.6
North Lanarkshire 680 10.9 263 10 273 4.4
Orkney Islands 72 20.2 5 2 7 2.0
Perth and Kinross 340 14.0 98 6 104 4.3
Renfrewshire 310 10.3 130 49 179 5.9
Scottish Borders 136 7.2 52 3 55 2.9
Shetland Islands 80 19.2 15 6 21 5.1
South Ayrshire 92 5.3 37 0 37 2.1
South Lanarkshire 780 14.0 323 24 347 6.2
Stirling 45 3.0 1 68 69 4.6
West Dunbartonshire 234 15.1 108 46 154 9.9
West Lothian 667 18.9 125 63 188 5.3
Scotland 11,726 12.8 3,733 664 4,397 4.8
Table 2.5 Continued
Local authority Registrations from initial and pre-birth Case Conferences
Number with an investigation recorded within 90 days of Case Conference Number with no investigation recorded within 90 days of Case Conference Total Rate[1],[2]
Aberdeen City 135 2 137 3.8
Aberdeenshire 90 2 92 1.9
Angus 34 59 93 4.9
Argyll and Bute 28 20 48 3.8
City of Edinburgh 118 42 160 2.0
Clackmannanshire 62 12 74 8.3
Dumfries and Galloway 35 17 52 2.3
Dundee City 138 7 145 6.1
East Ayrshire 119 2 121 5.8
East Dunbartonshire 63 1 64 3.3
East Lothian 32 14 46 2.3
East Renfrewshire 10 8 18 0.9
Falkirk 106 12 118 4.2
Fife 255 0 255 4.0
Glasgow City 342 0 342 3.4
Highland 5 92 97 2.5
Inverclyde 45 14 59 4.8
Midlothian 83 0 83 4.6
Moray 25 19 44 2.7
Na h-Eileanan Siar 9 0 9 2.2
North Ayrshire 238 0 238 10.7
North Lanarkshire 197 10 207 3.3
Orkney Islands 5 1 6 1.7
Perth and Kinross 77 5 82 3.4
Renfrewshire 83 28 111 3.7
Scottish Borders 51 2 53 2.8
Shetland Islands 12 6 18 4.3
South Ayrshire 31 0 31 1.8
South Lanarkshire 218 14 232 4.2
Stirling 1 65 66 4.4
West Dunbartonshire 51 21 72 4.6
West Lothian 92 59 151 4.3
Scotland 2,790 534 3,324 3.6

[1] Rate per 1,000 population aged 0-15. Source: National Records of Scotland, mid-year 2020 population estimates.

[2] The rate shown in this table includes unborn children who are on the register.

[3] 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 comparisons

The proportion of children on the Child Protection Register has remained broadly stable in Scotland over the last decade, and is notably lower compared with the rest of the UK (Chart 8). Scotland did not experience the large increases in children on the Child Protection Register during 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.

Chart 8: Cross- UK rate per 10,000 of children on the Child Protection Register 2004-2021 [1],[2],[3],[4],[5]
Although these patterns fluctuate from year to year, broadly, this shows that: In 2021, the rate of children on the child protection register was highest in Northern Ireland, followed by Wales, England, and Scotland.

[1] Scotland data used here is as at 31st March 2021 for comparability purposes with other UK countries. Please refer to Cross-UK comparability background notes for further information.

[2] England data source: Characteristics of children in need 2021

[3] Wales data source: Children on the child protection register

[4] Northern Ireland Source: Children's Social Care Statistics for Northern Ireland 2020/21

[5] Rate per 10,000 calculates using NRS mid 2020 population estimates for those aged under 18 years.

Contact

Email: childrens.statistics@gov.scot

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