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25% rise in the number of serious incident notifications after first lockdown

There has been more than a 25% rise in the number of serious incident notifications between the first half of 2019-20 and 2020-21.

The rise of 27% in the number of serious incident notifications made in the first half of 2020-21 was despite a decrease in the number of notifications made between 2018-19 and 2019-20.

The statistics relate to April to September 2020-2021, starting from just a month after England was plunged into the first lockdown in March 2020. Most children did not return to school full-time until September 2020 and in January 2021, schools closed again for apart from the children of key workers and vulnerable children.

“In the first half of 2020-21, incidents relating to child deaths increased from 89 to 119 and serious harm 132 to 153 compared to the same period in 2019-20,” said the report published by the Department for Education.

Where a local authority in England knows or suspects that a child has been abused or neglected, the local authority must notify the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel if the child dies or is seriously harmed in the local authority’s area or while normally resident in the local authority’s area, the child dies or is seriously harmed outside England, the Working Together to Safeguard Children guidance states.

The report highlights:

- The largest increases were seen amongst young children although those 16 years and over increased by a third.

- The majority - 54% - of incidents related to boys but girls saw the largest increase compared to 2019-20.

- Almost two thirds of serious incident notifications in the first half of 2020-21 related to white children, which is similar to 2019-20 but down from 2018-19.

- The proportion of incidents relating to children with a disability remained stable.

- Incidents relating to child deaths increased from 89 to 119 and serious harm 132 to 153.

- The majority of incidents - two thirds - occurred whilst living at home, however, there have been a slight increases in the proportion of incidents occurring in other placements, most notably where children are living with relatives which increased from seven in 2018-19 to 18 in 2020-21.

The proportion of incidents reported as relating to children with child protection plans was 8%. 86% of children were known to other agencies.

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