The number of children subject to child protection plans rose by almost 5% from 2007-8, according to Department for Children, Schools and Families figures released today.
They showed 29,200 children were the subject of a plan at 31 March 2008, compared with 27,900 in March 2007.
The number of children who became the subject of a child protection plan in the year to March 2008 was 34,000, up 2% on the 2006-7 figure, and more than the number who were taken off plans.
About 14% of 2007-8 cases had previously been the subject of a plan, one percentage point more than in 2006-7.
Neglect was reported as the most common category of abuse under which children became the subject of a plan in 2007-8, accounting for 45% of cases. The percentage of cases involving emotional abuse rose from 23% to 25% from 2006-7 to 2007-8.
Children’s charity Action for Children said the increase in the number of children subject to a child protection plan did not necessarily mean abuse was on the rise.
Abuse may not have increased
Shaun Kelly, head of safeguarding at the charity, said, “Whilst these figures have increased, we need to remain mindful that it is not necessarily due to child abuse becoming more prevalent. We know that with local authorities under increased pressures to take action, many people may have anticipated these figures to have been even higher.”
However, figures for 2008-9, which will be released next year, could be significantly higher than the 2007-8 statistics given the impact of the publicity surrounding the baby Peter case on the number of child protection cases.
Sharp hike in care applications
From November 2008 onwards, following the end of the trial of those responsible for Peter’s death, there has been a sharp rise in the number of applications for care orders by councils in England.