Government reports significant rise in child protection cases during 2014/15

Despite rising number of cases, Department for Education figures show the timeliness of child protection plan reviews held steady

Photo: Rex Features
Photo: Rex Features

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.

Referrals down

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.

2 Responses to Government reports significant rise in child protection cases during 2014/15

  1. Speedo March 28, 2016 at 9:24 am #

    This vital information is now a year out of date. The DfE should report these stats every 3 months so that individual LAs can compare their own trends with national picture.

    On the one hand the DfE drive a demand for stats returns on issues frowned upon by Munro reforms (eg Assessment Time Completions) then keep this info for nearly a year before reporting on it.
    The DfE is in effect placing double handcuffs on LAs. The driving need to report activity that distorts practice and the bureaucratic delay in disseminating this information making any contstructive use it may have virtually redundant. Michael Gove’s work at the DfE was terminated before his project reached beyond the educational blob and into that of DfE children’s services.

  2. Philip March 29, 2016 at 10:40 am #

    It’s a shame that this story has missed some of the key things about this year’s looked after children outcomes report. For the first time SEN [far more prevalent among looked after children] has been taken into account, and the picture at KS2 is very different from the usual ‘attainment gap dismay’ we’re all used to, with looked after children performing at the same level, or almost the same level, as their peers. The story is not as rosy at KS4 but is at least clearer in terms of children’s additional needs. And the fact that absence rates [authorised and not] are lower for looked after children than for all children, and way lower than for children in need, is something to shout about. Positive stories about the care system aren’t exactly commonplace, so I’d hope people would sit up and take notice when there’s good news to be told.