There are two nice clear graphs in the latest statistics concerning the characteristics of children in need in England for the period end of March 2014 to end of March 2015. Both show unremitting increases in child protection work.
The first concerns the number of Section 47 enquiries undertaken (a Section 47 enquiry is carried out when the local authority has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm). The number continues to rise with just over 160,000 Section 47 enquiries undertaken in the year ending 31st March 2015 – an increase of 12% on the previous year.
During the same period there were just over 71,000 initial child protection conferences, nearly a 10% increase on the previous year.
The second graph concerns the number of children made subject to a child protection plan. In 2014 - 2015, 62,200 children became the subject of a child protection plan compared to 59,800 in the previous year, an increase of 4%.
What is most alarming, however, is the relentless increase in work since these statistics were first published. In the five year period:
· Section 47 enquiries have increased from 111,700 to 160,150, an increase of more than 40%
· Initial Child Protection Conferences have increased from 53,000 to 71,140, an increase of more than 30%
· Numbers of children starting child protection plans have gone up from 49,000 to 62,200, an increase of 27%