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.

People

There are over 11 million children under 18 in England

Explanation: There were an estimated 11,591,701 people under 18 years in England in 2014.

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

Explanation: 635,600 referrals were made to children’s services during 2014/15. (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 2015 390,960 children were assessed as “children in need” of support, services or further investigation. 192,940 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? 2016.

illustration of umbrella

Over 49,000 children in England were identified as needing protection from abuse last year

Explanation: 49,690 children were the subject of a child protection plan at 31 March 2015. These figures represent children identified and assessed as being at risk of significant harm.

See also our overview of child protection plan statistics for England (PDF) and Indicator 13 in How safe are our children? 2016.

Reports of sexual offences against children have increased sharply in England

Explanation: Police recorded 39,388 sexual offences against children under the age of 18 in England in 2014/15.

This was a 32% increase on the 2013/14 figure of 29,792 offences. It is the highest number of recorded sexual offences against children in the past decade.

All 4 nations saw a sharp increase in 2014/15 possibly due to an increased willingness to report abuse following recent high profile sexual abuse cases in the media.

See also Indicator 4 in How safe are our children? 2016.

There are over 69,000 children in care in England

Explanation: There were 69,540 looked-after children in England at 31 March 2015.

3,510 of these children were placed with their parents.

42,710 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? 2016.

People

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

Explanation: There were 69,540 children looked after in England at 31 March 2015. There were 42,710 children looked after due to abuse or neglect at 31 March 2015.

This equates to 61% 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? 2016.

Neglect is the main concern in 45% of child protection plans in England

Explanation: There were 49,690 children subject to a child protection plan in England on 31 March 2015. 22,230 children were under the category of neglect. This equates to 45% 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? 2016 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

Find out more

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.
Find out more

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