Ten per cent rise in number of children placed on Protection Register this year

THE latest statistics show that there has been a 10 percent rise in the number of children placed on the Protection Register this year in the Western Health Trust area, despite a two per cent drop in the last quarter.

Although the annual figures showed there had been an increase generally, the quarterly figures showed that across Northern Ireland there had been a small decrease in all five Trust areas, but the Western Trust was bringing up the rear along with the Belfast Trust, with a two per cent decrease.

The statistics were revealed with the publication of ‘Children Order Child Protection and Referral Statistics for Northern Ireland for the quarter ending June 30. They are the sixth set of quarterly figures relating to child protection in the Province.

At 30 June there were 2,215 children on the Protection Register representing an overall decrease of eight per cent, or 186 children, on the previous quarter; annually the register count has decreased by nine per cent, from 2,427 to 2,215, with changes by Trusts ranging from an increase of 10 per cent (21) in the Western Trust to a decrease of 18 per cent (137) in the South Eastern Trust.

Compared with the previous quarter, numbers on the Register across Trusts fell 13 per cent, or 60 children, in the Southern Trust, 10 per cent, 66 children in the South Eastern Trust, 10 per cent or 45 children, in the Northern Trust, two per cent, amounting to 10 children in the Belfast Trust and two per cent, equating to five children, in the Western Trust.

Of the 2,215 children currently on the Register just 10 per cent, or 230 children related to the Register for the Western Trust area. Elsewhere, and over one quarter,28 per cent or 620 children were in the South Eastern Trust, 25 per cent (545) related to Belfast Trust, 19 per cent (413 children) in the Southern Trust, and 18 per cent (407 children) to the Northern Trust.·

The age profile of children on the Register has remained relatively stable from quarter to quarter, with 35 per cent – or 784 children – aged five to 11, 28 per cent or 618 children aged one to four years, 22 per cent, or 485 children aged from 12 to 15, 9 per cent (195 children) aged under one, and 6 per cent or 133 children, aged 16 or over.

The statistics showed that nine out of 10 children on the Register had no recorded legal status, 5 per cent (118 children) were ‘accommodated’ according to the terms of Article 21 and three per cent, or 68 children were subject to an Interim Care Order under the terms of Article 57.

When it came to the number of referrals – 1,186 in all – the total number across the Province was down by seven per cent on the previous quarter (1,271 referrals) and was two per cent lower than the same time last year (1,211 referrals). Almost half, 45 per cent, equating to 528 referrals, originated from within Social Services, 14 per cent (168 referrals) from the PSNI, 10 per cent (123 referrals) from a school or an education welfare officer, four per cent (50 referrals) came from relatives of children and the reaining 161 referrals came from ‘other’ sources.