Child protection in England Statistics

We don't know exactly how many children in England have experienced child abuse. But official statistics do tell us how many children have been identified as needing support or protection.

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There are over 11 million children under 18 in England

Explanation: There were an estimated 11,677,856 children under 18 years in England in 2015.

Over 390,000 children received support from children’s services in England in 2016

Explanation: 621,470 referrals were made to children's services during 2015/16. (This is not the number of children who were referred, as some children may have been referred on more than one occasion).

At 31 March 2016 394,400 children were assessed as "children in need" of support, services or further investigation. 199,720 of these children were assessed as being in need due to abuse or neglect.

The children in need figures include children on the child protection register (because they are at ongoing risk of significant harm), and looked after children (children in care). A child may also receive support services because they are disabled, a parent is ill or disabled, or there are other family problems. Some children may have been abused but either there is no ongoing risk of significant harm or they don't reach the threshold for "significant harm".

To find out what significant harm is and how is it determined, see our page on Child protection in England: Referrals and investigations.

See also Indicators 11 and 12 in How safe are our children? 2017.

illustration of umbrella

Over 50,000 children in England were identified as needing protection from abuse in 2016

Explanation: 50,310 children were the subject of a child protection plan at 31 March 2016. These figures represent children identified and assessed as being at risk of significant harm.

See also Indicator 13 in How safe are our children? 2017 and our summary of child protection register statistics in England (PDF).

Reports of sexual offences against children have increased sharply in England

Explanation: Police recorded 47,045 sexual offences against children under the age of 18 in England in 2015/16.

This was a 19% increase on the 2014/15 figure of 39,388 offences. It is the highest number of recorded sexual offences against children in the past decade.

All 4 nations saw an increase in 2015/16 possibly due to an increased willingness to report abuse following recent high profile sexual abuse cases in the media combined with improved police recording.

See also Indicator 4 in How safe are our children? 2017.

View the trend graph for Recorded sexual offences against children under 16 and under 18 (PNG).

There are over 70,000 children in care in England

Explanation: There were 70,440 looked-after children in England at 31 March 2016.

3,810 of these children were placed with their parents.

42,470 of these children were looked after due to abuse or neglect.

Children become looked-after when they are under the care of the local authority. Looked-after children are often referred to as children in care.

See also Indicator 17 in How safe are our children? 2017.

54%

More than half of children are taken into care because of abuse or neglect in England

Explanation: There were 70,440 children looked after in England at 31 March 2016. There were 42,470 children looked after due to abuse or neglect at 31 March 2016.

This equates to 60% of all looked after children in England being looked after as a result of abuse or neglect.

See also Indicator 17 in How safe are our children? 2017.

Neglect is the main concern in 46% of child protection plans in England

Explanation: There were 50,310 children subject to a child protection plan in England on 31 March 2016. 23,150 children were under the category of neglect. This equates to 46% of all the children subject to a child protection plan in England.

These figures represent children identified and assessed as being at ongoing risk of significant harm from neglect.

See also Indicator 14 in How safe are our children? 2017 and our summary of child protection register statistics in England (PDF).

Statistics across the UK

Northern Ireland

View official statistics for how many children have been identified as needing support or protection

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Scotland

View official statistics for how many children have been identified as needing support or protection

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Wales

View official statistics for how many children have been identified as needing support or protection

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More information and resources

Statistics on child abuse

View statistics and information on child abuse and neglect in the United Kingdom.
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