Hundreds of abused and neglected children in West Sussex protected by local authorities
Hundreds of abused and neglected children in West Sussex needed local authorities to step in and protect them over 12 months, according to figures from the Department for Education.
It reflects a growing trend across the country, with social workers calling for a renewed focus from the government to tackle the increasing number of children in need.
The latest figures show that 633 child protection plans, which are put in place when there is serious risk to a child’s health, were implemented in West Sussex in the year ending March 2017.
The most common reason was neglect, which accounted for 270 or 43% of cases. But 26 were for sexual abuse, 28 were for physical abuse, 179 were for emotional abuse and 130 were for multiple forms of abuse.
For every 1,000 youngsters under 18 in West Sussex, four were under child child protection plans.
Across the south-east, 9,760 child protection plans were implemented between April 2016 and March 2017, a rate of five for every 1,000 children.
The rate in West Sussex was lower than that for the whole of England, where there were six child protection plans for every 1,000 children, with 66,410 children across the country receiving support from local authorities following neglect or abuse.
There were 16% more child protection plans implemented in 2016/17 in West Sussex than during the previous 12 months, and across England the number increased by 5%, representing some 3,100 children.
Maris Stratulis, the England manager for the British Association of Social Workers, said: “The statistics reflect the increasing demand on services and the complexity of need of some of the most vulnerable children in this country.
“Hardworking, dedicated social workers continue to make a difference every day to the lives of many. However, the government and inspection bodies, including Ofsted, need to acknowledge the ever-increasing demand on over-stretched children’s services, and the impact this has on services being delivered.”
Child protection plans, enforced under Section 47 of the Children Act, are put in place after a child is taken into police protection or put under an emergency protection order, or if there is a strong suspicion that a child will suffer significant harm.
While some children may have more than one plan implemented over the course of a year, on a single day, 31 March 2017, there were 549 individual children being supported by local authorities in West Sussex following abuse or neglect. On the same day, over 50,000 children in England were receiving the same support.
Data available at: www.gov.uk/government/statistics/characteristics-of-children-in-need-2016-to-2017, www.gov.uk/government/statistics/characteristics-of-children-in-need-2015-to-2016