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Number of children on child protection register in Scotland rises

There has been a 3% rise in the number of children on the child protection register in Scotland, according to national statistics.

There were 2,654 children on the child protection register in Scotland at 31 July 2020 which was a 3% increase from the 2018-19 figure. The most common causes for concern were emotional and domestic abuse, parental substance misuse, and neglect. The figures show that 47% were boys, 48% were girls, and 5% were unborn babies.

There were 14,458 looked after children in Scotland in July 2020 the number of children on the child protection register or looked after represented 2% of children in Scotland. There was a 1% increase or 196 more children looked after than in 2019. This is the first year of increase after seven consecutive years of decline, falling from a peak of 16,248 in 2012 to 14,262 in 2019.

There were 82 young people in secure care accommodation and three more young people, on average, during the year in secure care accommodation. There were an average of 82 residents in secure care accommodation between 1 August 2019 and 31 July 2020, an increase from an average of 79 in the previous year. The average number of residents from within Scotland remained at 53, while the average from outside Scotland increased slightly from 26 to 28, all of whom were from England.

The number of nights emergency beds were used was 209 in 2020. This is a considerable decrease of 47% from 398 in the previous year.

Although most children go home to their biological parents when they cease to be looked after, the proportion has declined from 62% in 2010 to 54% in 2020. A further 16% went to live in kinship care with friends or relatives or left care through a Kinship Care Order in 2020. The proportion of children leaving care due to being adopted was 6% in 2020, down 1% from 2019. The majority of adoptions (73%) are of children aged under five years old.

Scotland has a much higher proportion of children looked after at home than the rest of the UK. In Scotland this type of placement requires a supervision order from the Children’s Panel. Compared to the rest of the UK, overall, Scotland had the highest rate of looked after children in 2020 at 139 children per 10,000 under 18 population. The rate of looked after children in Wales is 15 lower, at 109 per 10,000, while the rates in Northern Ireland 77 per 10,000 and England 67 per 10,000 are lower still.

However, the proportion of children on the child protection register has been broadly stable in Scotland over the last decade and this proportion is notably lower compared with the rest of the UK. Scotland did not experience the large increases in children on the register in 2007-2011 as seen in the rest of the UK.

Children’s Social Work Statistics 2019-20

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