The volume of child protection enquiries and initial child protection conferences rose significantly in 2014/15, government statistics show.
The Department for Education’s Characteristics of Children in Need statistics for 2014/15 report that 160,150 section 47 enquiries were started in England in 12 months to 31 March 2015, up 12% on the previous year.
In the same period, the number of initial child protection conferences increased by nearly 10% to 71,140 and the number of children who became subject to child protection plans rose from 59,800 to 62,200.
Despite the rising volume of cases the proportion of child protection plans reviewed within the required timescales only slipped slightly from 94.6% in 2013/14 to 94% in 2014/15.
The figures also confirm that the trend for children to become subject to a child protection plans more than once continues. In 2010/11 13.3% of those starting plans had been subject to one before, in 2014/15 the figure was 16.6%.
The Department for Education (DfE) also reported a 3 percentage point fall in the number of new referrals to children’s social care to 635,600. Of these 23% were assessed and deemed to require no further action – up from 19% in 2013/14.
The DfE report on the figures said: “Whilst there is no clear evidence, anecdotal evidence from local authorities suggests that increased media attention on child protection leads to an increase in the number of referrals they receive.”
Education of looked-after children
Figures on the educational performance of looked-after children and children in need have also been published.
The statistics show that 14% of children who have been in local authority care for more than 12 months got 5 or more A*-C GCSEs including English and maths in the year to 31 March 2015, up from 12% the previous year. However this is still far below 53% of all children who achieve these grades.
The figures also report that children in need are more likely to be absent from school than looked-after children and more likely to get permanently excluded from school.