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Children: Protection

Volume 492: debated on Tuesday 12 May 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will take steps to encourage local authorities to issue child protection proceedings. (273665)

I have been asked to reply.

Local authorities have a clear statutory duty under section 47 of the Children Act 1989 to investigate where they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm. Where as a result of that investigation they conclude they should take action to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare by for example applying for a care order, they must take that action. It is for individual authorities to decide when to initiate care proceedings under section 31 of Children Act 1989 when a child is at risk in their own home.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many child protection cases were heard by the family court in (a) 2005, (b) 2006, (c) 2007 and (d) 2008. (273676)

The following table shows the number of care, supervision and emergency protection order applications made to the family courts in England and Wales during the specified years.

Number of (a) care applications (b) supervision applications and (c) emergency protection order applications in the England and Wales family courts, 2005-08

Application type

2005

2006

2007

20081

Care applications

13,498

13,421

13,717

12,089

Supervision applications

897

938

1,069

624

Emergency protection order applications

2,736

1,676

1,459

1,722

1 Provisional

Notes:

1. 2005-07 data cover all tiers of court, and are as published in the annual Ministry of Justice reports ‘Judicial and Court Statistics’.

2. 2008 data exclude applications made to the High Court (which typically account for around 3 per cent. of all child protection applications) and should be treated as provisional. Final figures will be published in ‘Judicial and Court Statistics 2008’ later in the year.

3. Figures relate to the number of children subject to each application. On this basis, an application relating to two children will be counted twice.

4. Figures for Family Proceedings Courts prior to April 2007 are likely to be an undercount. A new method of data collection was introduced in April 2007 which has improved the coverage and completeness of data. Any comparison with figures prior to April 2007 may be affected by the improved data recording.

Source:

HM Courts Service case management systems

An application will not necessarily result in a full court hearing in every case, as the application can be withdrawn or the proceedings otherwise discontinued before this stage is reached. It should also be noted that an application of one type can result in an order of a different type being made by the court.