Children in need: statistics 2013/14 Latest statistics for children subject to child protection plans in England

The latest children in need statistics (Department for Education, 2014) show a significant rise in referrals and the number of children subject to child protection plans.

This increase does not necessarily mean that child abuse and neglect are on the increase. But it does tell us that more people are reporting their concerns about children and that children’s services are responding by making more children subject to child protection plans.

For the first time, this data set includes the sources of referrals and risk factors identified in assessments.


Data trends

Rise in referrals

The number of referrals to children's social care is up from from 593,500 in 2012/13 to 657,700 in 2013/14, an increase of almost 11%. The previous year (2011/12 - 2012/13) referrals decreased by 2%.

The recent increase may have been caused by a number of high profile child protection cases in the media over the last year, including Daniel Pelka and Hamzah Khan. It should be noted that the number of referrals has been subject to sharp increases in the past. For example, there was a rise of over 10% in referrals between 2008/9 and 2009/10 following the death of Peter Connelly.

Rise in number of children subject to a child protection plan

There has been a sharp rise in both the number of children starting a child protection plan and the number of children subject to a plan on the 31 March 2014.

The number of children starting a child protection plan is up from 52,700 in 2012/13 to 59,800 in 2013/14, an increase of over 13%. The previous year (2011/12 - 2012/13) the number of children starting a child protection plan increased by just over 1%.

The number of children who were subject to a child protection plan is up from 43,100 at 31 March 2013 to 48,300 at 31 March 2014, an increase of 12%. The previous year (31 March 2012 - 31 March 2013) the number of children on a child protection plan increased by 0.5%.

The rise in number of children subject to plans reflects the rising number of referrals.

Neglect and emotional abuse are the two categories that have seen the greatest increase

Children subject to a child protection plan by initial category of neglect is up from 17,930 at 31 March 2013 to 20,970 at 31 March 2014, a 17% increase. Children subject to a child protection plan by initial category of emotional abuse is up from 13,640 at 31 March 2013 to 15,860 at 31 March 2014, a 16% increase. This is compared to the increase of 12% for all abuse types.

New datasets

Source of referrals

Woman writing on notepadData has been collected for the first time on the source of referrals. The most common source of referral is the police (24%), followed by health services (14%) and schools (13%).

However in 8% of cases the source was recorded as "unknown". This is likely to change as local authorities become more accustomed to new recording requirements.

The top five sources, in order of number of referrals for 2013/14, are:

  • police 156,400 (24%)
  • health services 91,700 (14%)
  • schools 85,600 (13%)
  • local authority services 77,900 (12%)
  • individual 68,900 (11%)

Housing services made up less than 2% of all referrals.

You can read the full dataset in Table C6 of the National and local authority tables: SFR43/2014.

Number of continuous assessments

The new Working Together guidance removes the requirement for distinct initial and core assessments, with their respective deadlines of 10 and 35 days. Instead local authorities are able to undertake a continuous assessment with a deadline of 45 days.

The figures show that 108 local authorities have changed to continuous assessments in 2013/14.

Concerns identified in assessments

Man and woman looking at papers on a tableData has been recorded for the first time on the factors identified by initial assessments and continuous assessments. An assessment may have more than one factor recorded.

For both initial and continuous assessments domestic violence was the most commonly identified factor - nearly 32% and 41% of assessments respectively.

 

The top ten factors identified in both initial and continuous assessments, though not in the same order, are:

You can read the full dataset in Table A6 of the National and local authority tables: SFR43/2014.

Further reading:

Cooper, Judy (30 October 2013) Social workers hit with 11% increase in referrals to children’s services. In: Community Care 

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References

  1. Department for Education (DfE) (2014) Characteristics of children in need in England, 2013-14. (Statistical first release, SFR43/2014). London: Department for Education (DfE).