The number of placement orders granted by judges have halved in the last nine months, government statistics have revealed.
Figures for April to June this year show that 760 orders were made, a fall of 51% compared to July to September 2013.
New placement orders fell by 900 in 2013/14 when compared to the previous year, which has been attributed to the impact of the Re B-S case’s ruling on adoption procedures.
The judgement, made in September 2013, criticised “sloppy practice” by social workers and stressed the need for councils to supply “proper evidence” that all alternatives to adoption had been considered before seeking a placement order.
Hugh Thornberry, chief executive of Adoption UK and a member of the Adoption Leadership Board (ALB) which published the figures, said that the Re B-S judgement acted as a reminder of what should be happening in social work practice and that the fall in placement orders is a reaction to that.
“It should rebalance as practice catches up with what I think has always been the expectations,” Thornberry said.
Thornberry expects that the judgement will have a positive effect on practice: “The longer, wider view of this is we will benefit from this. At the moment we are all experiencing something we weren’t expecting to see which is a decline in the last year in the number of children coming through the system.”
The Department for Education said the ALB’s guidance for local authorities on the Re B-S judgement will be published shortly. A spokeswoman for the department said the fall in placement orders was down to how “local authorities have interpreted some recent court judgements”.