A Review of Child Neglect in Scotland

The study reviewed the scale and nature of child neglect in Scotland and was conducted by researchers at te University of Stirling.


The three review questions were:

  • How many children are currently experiencing neglect in Scotland?
  • How good are we at recognising children who are at risk of, or experiencing, neglect?
  • How well are we helping children at risk of or currently experiencing neglect?

They were addresses with four types of data collection primarily undertaken between January and April 2012 within Scotland. The polls took place as part of the UK wide review in August 2011.

Policy and statistics collation

A range of governmental and published documents from across the UK but with a focus on those relating to Scotland were consulted and outlined to inform the policy and statistical sections of the review. Data from the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration was also drawn upon.


The survey questionnaire was sent to Child Protection Committee (CPC) Lead Officers in the 26 of the 32 Scottish local authority areas (or 29 CPC areas) which had not previously responded to the 2011 survey. The 6 previous responses were included in this data analysis.

Some areas responded quickly while others required up to five prompts. A response was received from all but two areas and a Lead Officer in one additional area responded to say that she was unable to complete the questionnaire for operational reasons.

In total there were 25 completions which was a return rate of over 75%. Two of the seven areas which did not return a questionnaire hosted focus groups and two others stated their intention to but were unable to make the deadline.

The positive response to the survey was greatly assisted by the help given by the Scottish Child Protection Committees Co-ordinator (SCPCC) who supplied the names and contact details of all the CPC Lead Officers, suggested how covering letters should be worded and arranged for one of the researchers to attend the Scottish Child Protection Committees Neglect sub-group. The involvement of the SCPCC with the review enabled it to be seen as a collaborative project which would help to identify good practice as well as gaps in the Scottish response to child neglect and would be a useful vehicle for practice development. This was likely to have been an influencing factor in the high level of participation in the review.

In addition, survey questionnaires amended for national voluntary sector agencies were distributed to six voluntary sector agencies working within Scotland. A telephone interview was undertaken with an Action for Children representative and two other agencies made initial contact with us. For practical reasons it was not possible to follow these up with telephone interviews.

Focus groups

In total 15 focus groups were held in six areas of Scotland; this included three which took place as part of the original UK wide review and were held jointly with staff from two local authority areas. The six areas included three urban areas, two primarily rural areas (including an island community) and one area with large towns and a rural mix.

Three areas hosted three focus groups and three hosted two - all were multi-agency groups, comprising a range of services. Some areas were able to arrange groups which were primarily made up of practitioners, middle managers and strategic managers respectively. In the others the groups were a mix of staff from all levels.

The attendance at focus groups was high with 147 participants in total. The spread of representation was as follows:

Social work services: 48 Health services: 36
Education services: 21 Voluntary sector agencies: 12
Housing: 1 Police: 10
Scottish Children's Reporter Administration: 1


A series of polls were commissioned from YouGov for the UK wide review in June 2011. The polls used similar methodology and followed up from previous polls commissioned by Action for Children There were two elements - an online survey of 2062 adults ages 18+ in the UK. These figures are weighted to be representative of all UK adults (ages 18+).

A survey of professions which yielded responses from:

Primary school staff n=1177 Pre-school/nursery staff n=140
Health professionals n=329 Social workers n=282 and Police officers n=246.

The poll of the general public sought views about awareness of child neglect and its various manifestations, about routes to help for children and whether they would or have used (confidence to report). The poll results are referred to in summary form in this report and are described in more detail in the UK wide report 'Child Neglect in 2011'.


Email: Philip Raines

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