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Child Custody Orders

Volume 977: debated on Monday 28 January 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what proportion of child custody orders is made with the benefit of a welfare officer's report; what is the present number of such welfare officers employed on this work; and what proportion of them are women.

Courts call for welfare reports from probation officers and local authority social workers in a wide range of proceedings involving the custody of children. No figures are available of the number of reports provided by social workers, but in 1978 probation officers provided 19,432 reports following inquiries concerning the custody of, and access to, children.Social workers working in this field provide welfare reports as part of their general duties and are not employed solely on this work. In 1977, the number of full-time basic grade social workers employed by local authorities in England was about 11,000, of which 4,000 were men and 7,000 were women. Figures for later years are not yet available. No information is available concerning the number of probation officers employed as court welfare officers.