Statistics Publication Notice: Health and Care Series: Children's Social Work Statistics 2009/10

Statistics publication of Child Protection and Secure Care and Close Support Accommodation


Method of Collection

Each local authority is asked to submit an annual survey form providing aggregate data for children going through the process of child protection. Figures were collected for the number of child protection referrals, number of child protection referrals that resulted in a case conference, number of registrations, number of de-registrations and number of children on child protection registers. The dates for the collection is throughout the financial year, 1 st April 2009 to 31 st March 2010.

Change in Methodology

From 2005/06, to improve consistency in reporting across local authorities, the question in relation to the number of child protection referrals was revised from asking for the number of children who had a child protection referral to asking for the total number of child protection referrals and the total number of children these involved. The reason for this change was to take into account that a child may be subject to more than one child protection referral in the same year, and that more than one child could be involved in a single child protection referral. In previous years, the child was only being counted once by some local authorities, whereas from 2005/06 this was now a count of referrals and a child could be counted more than once. Also, if a number of children were included in a single child protection referral, then all children were to be counted (as if they had each had their own child protection referral).

This change in the way Child Protection Referrals were to be counted may also have affected the number of Case Conferences and any subsequent Child Protection Registrations (see Tables 2 - 5) as a child who was subject to more than one Case Conference and Child Protection registration during the year will now be counted more than once by some local authorities.

As a result of this change any comparisons pre- and post- 2005/06 should be made with caution.

Child Protection Referrals - Changes over Time and Comparisons Across Local Authorities

It should be noted that different local authorities may classify child protection referrals differently. For example, some local authorities start the referral process at a different point and some local authorities do not include unborn children. As a result of these differences, comparisons across years and across local authorities should be made with caution.

These differences are particularly noticeable in Table 10 which shows a large variation in the number of child protection case conference as a percentage of the number of child protection referrals across local authorities (ranging from 14% in Aberdeenshire, Scottish Borders and the Shetland Islands to 77% in West Dunbartonshire).

The Scottish Government are working with local authorities and key stakeholders in order to reduce these inconsistencies as part of the review of child protection statistics (see below).


The information in this News Release was obtained from the statistical return. The attached link gives details of the statistics collected from each local authority.

This Statistics Publication Notice is available on the Scottish Government website at:-

Related publications on referrals, assessments and children who are the subject of a child protection plans across the UK can be found at::-

England: 2009/10 Child Protection Statistics for England are due for release on Thursday 30 September 2010, and will be available using the following link:


Child protection data at 31 March 2010 will be published as part of the Children Services data on 22 September 2010 and the Child Protection bulletin 2010 will be published on 25 November 2010. This data will be available at:

Children's services data:

Children's services first release:

Child protection bulletin:

Northern Ireland: Children Order statistical tables and a Children Order statistical bulletin are published annually. The latest and historical figures for both are available at:

More information on other children's areas and social work staffing, can be seen at

Review of Child Protection Statistics

Since the late 1990s, the Scottish Government has been conducting an annual survey of Child Protection Statistics in Scotland. This survey requests statistical information be reported by local authorities to the Scottish Government covering the financial year (i.e. April - March) on a local authority aggregated basis, and results were published around the following September.

Proposed Changes

The Scottish Government's Education Directorate has been undertaking a review of its existing statistical collections. As a result, the Scottish Government are currently consulting on the following proposals:

  • the reporting year of the Child Protection Survey be moved to an academic year (i.e August to July), to coincide with the reporting year recently introduced for the Children Looked After Survey, starting with the 2010/11 reporting year.
  • the Child Protection Survey be developed to become an individual child/case level collection instead of a local authority aggregate level collection, starting from the 2012/13 reporting year.

Possible Benefits

There would be a number of benefits with implementing these proposals:

  • an individual child/case level data collection would enable longitudinal analyses to be carried out in relation to children involved in child protection measures (e.g. assessing how many times the same child has been involved in child protection measures over the course of their childhood)
  • if the reporting year for the Child Protection survey and Children Looked After survey were on the same basis, and an individual child/case level data collection were introduced, there would be improved scope to link these longitudinal data sets together in order to provide much richer value-added and flexible analyses (e.g. we could investigate if there was any relationship between children involved in child protection measures and children who become formerly looked after by local authorities, etc.)
  • the statistics for children involved in social work services (i.e. child protection, children looked after, secure care accommodation) could be published together in a combined statistical publication rather than as a number of standalone statistical products, thus providing a more coherent picture because the information being reported covers the same reporting period, and would all become available to release to users/stakeholders at the same time.

If you would like to be consulted about new or existing statistical collections or receive notification of forthcoming statistical publications, please register your interest on the Scottish Government ScotStat website (see below).

UK Statistics Authority - Assessment of Child Protection Statistics

As these statistics are already designated as "National Statistics", under the provisions of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007, the UK Statistics Authority has a statutory responsibility to assess whether the Code of Practice has been complied with in relation to these statistics. Where the Authority determines that the Code has been complied with it will confirm that the statistics can remain designated as "National Statistics", but otherwise not.

In fulfilling its statutory remit, the Authority will use the assessment process to identify steps that could be taken to improve the service to users of the statistics, and will report accordingly. In this way assessment will support the Authority's overall objective, which is to promote and safeguard the production and publication of official statistics that serve the public good.

The Child Protection Statistics in Scotland are currently in the process of being assessed by the UK Statistics Authority. The Scottish Government is expecting the UK Statistics Authority to publish its Assessment Report in due course, which will be available here:

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