Child protection in Scotland Statistics

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

Over 2,600 children in Scotland were identified as needing protection from abuse in 2017

Explanation: 2,631 children were on the child protection register in Scotland on 31 July 2017. These figures represent children identified and assessed as being at risk of significant harm.

Find out what significant harm is and how is it determined on our page on Child protection in Scotland: referrals and investigations.

See Indicator 14 in How safe are our children? 2018 and our summary of child protection register statistics in Scotland (PDF).

View trend graph Number of children on and added to a child protection register in Scotland (PNG).

There are over 1 million children under 18 in Scotland

Explanation: There were an estimated 1,031,761 people under 18 years in Scotland in 2016.

People

Over 15,000 children were referred to the Children's Reporter in Scotland in 2016/17

Explanation: Children are referred to the Children's Reporter if compulsory measures of supervision may be necessary to protect the child from harm and/or to address their behaviour.

In 2016/17, 15,118 children and young people in Scotland were referred to the Reporter:

  • 12,140 on care and protection grounds
  • 2,978 on offence grounds.

There are over 14,000 children in care in Scotland

Explanation: 14,897 children were "looked after" in Scotland on 31 July 2017.

11,131 of these children were living away from home and 3,766 were living at home with their parents.

Scotland does not publish data on why children become looked after. So we don't know how many become looked after due to abuse or neglect.

See also Indicator 17 in How safe are our children? 2018.

View the trend graph for Number of looked after and accommodated children in Scotland (PNG).

Reports of sexual offences against children have increased in Scotland

Explanation: Police recorded 4,097 sexual offences against children under 16 in Scotland in 2016/17.

This was a 10% increase on the 2015/16 figure of 3,715 offences. It is the highest number of sexual offences against children in the past decade.

All 4 nations saw an increase in 2016/17 possibly due to an increased willingness to report abuse following high profile sexual abuse cases in the media combined with improved police recording.

See also Indicator 4 in How safe are our children? 2018.

View trend graph Recorded sexual offences against children under 16 in Scotland (PNG).

Concerns about neglect were identified for 36% of children on the child protection register in Scotland in 2017

Explanation: In Scotland multiple concerns can be recorded for each child (rather than just the main category of abuse). At case conference concerns about neglect were identified for 951 (36%) of the 2,631 children on the child protection register at 31 July 2017.

See also Indicator 14 in How safe are our children? 2018.

View trend graph Concerns at case conference of the children on the child protection register in Scotland (PNG).

Statistics across the UK

England

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

Find out more

Northern Ireland

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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