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 2,700 children in Scotland were identified as needing protection from abuse in 2016

Explanation: 2,723 children were on the child protection register in Scotland on 31 July 2016.  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? 2017 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 (PNG).

There are over 1 million children under 18 in Scotland

Explanation: There were an estimated 1,031,100 people under 18 years in Scotland in 2015.

People

Last year, over 15,000 children were referred to the Children's Reporter in Scotland

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 2015/16, 15,329 children and young people in Scotland were referred to the Reporter:

  • 13,688 on care and protection grounds
  • 2,761 on offence grounds.

There are over 15,000 children in care in Scotland

Explanation: 15,404 children were "looked after" in Scotland on 31 July 2015.

11,477 of these children were living away from home and 3,927 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? 2017

Reports of sexual offences against children have increased in Scotland

Explanation:Police recorded 3,715 sexual offences against children under 16 in Scotland in 2015/16.

This was a 7% increase on the 2014/15 figure of 3,475 offences. It is the highest number of 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 trend graph Number of children on and added to a child protection register (PNG)

Concerns about neglect were identified for 37% of children on the child protection register in Scotland in 2016

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 945 (35%) of the 2,723 children on the child protection register at 31 July 2016.

See also Indicator 14 in How safe are our children? 2017.

View trend graph Concerns at case conference of the children on the child protection register during the year end July 31 (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

Find out more

Wales

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

Find out more

More information and resources

Statistics on child abuse

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

Information Service

Our free service for people who work with children can help you find the latest policy, practice, research and news on child protection and related subjects.

For more information, call us or email help@nspcc.org.uk.

0808 800 5000

Submit an enquiry

Support our research

Research like this helps keep children safe from abuse – but we can’t do it without our generous supporters. 

Donate now

Helping you keep children safe

Read our guide for professionals on what we do and the ways we can work with you to protect children and prevent abuse and neglect.

Read our guide (PDF)

Factsheets and briefings

Read our short summaries of various subjects in child protection from safe recruitment to new research on education programmes.

Read our factsheets