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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 November 2007, 13:15 GMT
Child referrals hit record level
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The most common referrals included a lack of parental care
Record numbers of children in Scotland were referred to the Children's Reporter in the past year.

The Scottish Children's Reporter Administration's (SCRA) annual report said 56,199 children - the equivalent of 154 a day - were referred.

The figures represented a 4% increase in referrals in 2006/07 on the previous year and an all-time high.

In Clackmannanshire, Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire, more than one in 10 of the child population was referred.

The rise was due to the number of children (44,629) referred on "care and protection" grounds, which covers allegations of cruelty, sexual offences, domestic abuse and neglect.

Increasing referrals mean more young people who need help are being identified
Adam Ingram,
Children's Minister

The statistics also showed that nearly a quarter of the children referred were under four years old.

The most common grounds for referral involved the child being a "victim of a Schedule 1 offence".

This includes cruelty, sexual offences, bodily injury and indecent behaviour against children.

The figures also showed the number of children referred to the Reporter for allegedly committing an offence fell 7% in the same period, from 17,641 to 16,490.

Douglas Bulloch, chair of SCRA, said: "These figures need to concern us all.

"They clearly indicate that the needs of children and their families have to be addressed much earlier.

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"To achieve this, there must be effective responses in place in our communities to assist children and young people who have already been identified as being vulnerable."

For the first time, the report saw more than 100,000 referrals - a child can be referred more than once. Of these, more than 30,000 gave no indication that compulsory supervision measures were required.

Almost 90% of referrals came from police.

Mr Bulloch added: "The 31,811 children, for whom there was no indication of a need for compulsory measures nonetheless constituted a significant workload for the Children's Reporters in 2006/07, as they worked to ensure that no single child slipped through the net.

"SCRA has been working closely with its partners, locally and nationally, to address the challenging issue of ensuring only appropriate referrals are made to the Children's Reporter."

He said it was clear the Children's Hearings System was being used for purposes for which it was not designed and for which it was not resourced.

Children's Minister Adam Ingram said: "Increasing referrals mean more young people who need help are being identified.

"That's down, in part at least, to improved knowledge and understanding of child protection issues and will make a difference to many of their lives."

SEE ALSO
Child crime statistics revealed
14 Nov 07 |  South of Scotland
More children on care registers
25 Sep 07 |  Scotland

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