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BASPCAN - UK-wide increase in number of children

Researchers at Queen's University Belfast have identified a 60 per cent increase since 2006 in England in the numbers of children being recognised as in need of protection and on the child protection register.

The research team also found that in the same period, Northern Ireland experienced a 46 per cent increase, Wales a 33 per cent increase, and Scotland a 19 per cent increase.

On 31 March 2011, 42,330 children were on the child protection register in England, up from 26,400 in 2006.

The table below reveals the numbers of children on the child protection register at 31 March in 2006 and 2011, in each country.

Child Protection Register Figures

2006 (number of children)
England 26400
Wales 2165
Scotland 2157
Northern Ireland 1639

2011 (number of children)
England 42330
Wales 2880
Scotland 2571
Northern Ireland 2401

The figures have been revealed ahead of a major international child protection conference organised by the British Association for the Study and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (BASPCAN) being held at Queen's between 16 18 April.

The event is providing professionals from across the world with the opportunity to discuss and debate why children become vulnerable, how professionals can respond, and how society can reduce the longer term negative consequences for children of experiencing adversity in childhood. Professor Brigid Daniel, University of Stirling; Dr John Devaney, Queen's University Belfast; District Judge Nicholas Crichton, London and DI John Gedden, Hampshire Police, are just some of the 900 delegates attending who will speak on wide range of developments in the area, including:

  • Hunting and convicting travelling sex offenders
  • Child deaths as a result of abuse and neglect
  • Sexual exploitation of children and young people
  • An initial investigation of the apparent suicide cluster in Bridgend in 2007-8
  • Forced marriage and children
  • Young witnesses in criminal proceedings
  • Young who die through suicide
  • Family drug and alcohol courts
  • Lifecourse trajectories of young people who sexually harm
  • The impact on children of domestic violence
  • The abuse of children through new technologies

Dr John Devaney from Queen's School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work and convenor of Baspcan's congress, said: "Over the past five years there has been a substantial increase in the numbers of children referred to social services due to concerns for their well being. Whilst some commentators may feel that this increase is a reflection that services for children and their families are failing, at Queen's we are stating that the opposite is true. We have highlighted the importance of ensuring as many of these children as possible are brought to the attention of professionals.

"The latest NSPCC Child Maltreatment prevalence survey indicates that 1 in 4 young adults report experiencing severe physical, sexual or emotional harm in childhood.

"At a time when the Government in Westminster is expressing concern about the consequences of families who are experiencing multiple problems, the research on the association between childhood adversity and negative outcomes in adulthood, when considered together, provides some very powerful messages for policy and practice across the areas of mental health and social functioning, physical health, and later offending behaviour, all of which has implications for service use and the wider economy."

Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Edwin Poots MLA said: "This is an important international conference that will allow us to both hear and learn about developments nationally and internationally and showcase child protection practice in Northern Ireland. The protection of children must be a high priority in all our societies and it requires good effective multi-agency inter professional input and sharing of best practice and research. I commend BASPCAN for choosing Belfast and Queen's University for its 2012 Congress. I look forward to both speaking at the event and seeing the contribution the Congress will make to our wider understanding of the protection of children across the globe."

Dr Catherine Powell, BASPCAN Chair, added: "This is difficult work, and there is no doubt that the uncertain times that we are living in have a major impact on the most vulnerable families in our societies. This Congress will give those who strive to ensure the safety and well-being of children and young people an unrivalled opportunity to learn, to reflect and to refresh. Importantly, delegates will be inspired to return to their challenging, yet also rewarding, work with new knowledge, skills and enthusiasm. We are delighted to be holding our 8th National Congress in the wonderful historic city of Belfast. We are looking forward to welcoming the Minister, Mr Edwin Poots and the Children's Commissioner Ms Lewsley-Mooney, and delegates from around the world to share the latest research and developments in safeguarding and child protection."

Contact: Lisa McElroy
Queen's University Belfast

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