Numbers on Wales child protection register rise again

The number of children on the child protection register in Wales has risen, according to official statistics, a continuation of an upward trend seen in the country since the convictions in the Baby Peter Connolly case in November 2008.

There were 2,700 children on the child protection register in March 2010, an increase of 31% from 31 March 2009, the Welsh Assembly Government figures found. The figures show an even more marked rise on statistics for March 2008, eight months before the Peter Connolly case hit the headlines, when 2,320 children were on the register.

The figure of 2,700 children, which includes unborn children, represents a rate of 43 children per 10,000 population under the age of 18-years-old.

Commenting on the findings, BASW development worker Cheryl Ewan raised the risk of social workers “drowning while trying to keep pace with a very challenging safeguarding situation” but also said the statistics pointed to much deeper societal issues, rather than solely those attributed to the recent media attention on child protection.

“The correlation between children in need and poverty and deprivation as well as substance dependency and mental health support would certainly impact on the indicated increase, particularly with regard to neglect. Despite attempts at regeneration in certain areas of Wales, it is clear that many communities in the Welsh valleys in particular have never recovered following the decimation of the coal industry and continue to live in poverty.”

Ms Ewen said the challenge of deprivation was reflected in the From Vision to Action report by the Independent Commission on Social Services in Wales which points to a calculation that 51% of looked after children in Wales live in the 17% of neighbourhoods identified as the most deprived.

“Social Workers see this correlation on a daily basis and will be justifiably concerned about the impact of the spending cuts on further increases in registrations,” she added.

According to the government’s child protection statistics, the highest number of registrations, 46%, were on the child protection register due to neglect, with the smallest number, 9%, listed for reasons of sexual abuse, although some children were on the register for more than one reason.

Of the total number of children, 45% on the register were aged under five.

Rhonda Cynon Taf had the most children on the child protection register, followed by Cardiff and Swansea. Monmouthshire had the fewest children, followed by Ceredigion.

Merthyr Tydfil recorded the highest rate of children on the register, at 72 per 10,000 population aged under 18, while more prosperous Monmouthshire recorded the lowest (20). The figures reveal an average of two children in each of the households where a child has been placed on the register.

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