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New figures from the Ministry of Justice reveal a one percent decrease in the number of children involved in public law applications in the second quarter of this year.

The figures concern actions brought by local authorities or an authorised person in order to protect children. Such cases can cover a number of different orders, including a care or supervision order, or an emergency protection order.

The number of children involved in public law applications made by local authorities jumped in 2009 from around 20,000 per year to almost 26,000 per year following the publicity surrounding the Baby P case. Since then the numbers continued to increase through to early 2012, but have this quarter shown a small decrease.

According to the statistics, in the period between April and June this year 7,032 children were involved in public law applications – down one percent from the equivalent period in 2011, when 7,114 children were involved. The number of applications made, which can cover more than one child, also fell slightly to 4,101 from 4,149 in the second quarter of 2011.

The number of children involved in private law applications, which generally follow a breakdown in their parents’ relationship, actually increased in the second quarter of this year – up 14% to 27,204.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.

 

Children's charity Barnardo's has commented on the recent ONS publication that shows there was an increase in the number of adoptions in 2011 compared to 2010.

The statistics show that nearly two-thirds (62%) of children adopted in England & Wales last year were aged between one and four. The 2011 figure was an increase on the previous year, when one to four-year-olds made up 58% of adoptions in England and Wales. There was also a 6% increase in the overall level of adoptions, with 4,734 in 2011 compared with 4,481 in 2010.

Barnardo’s UK Director of Strategy, Janet Grauberg, said:

“The fact that more children are being adopted and at a younger age, is very good news.

“But the increase, although heartening, is still small. We need to strive to move these children to a permanent, stable and secure family as quickly as possible, as the longer a child waits the more they suffer emotionally and the less likely they are to be adopted.

“Children who wait longest for families are siblings, disabled children, older children, and those from black or minority ethnic backgrounds. We desperately need more people to come forward to adopt children – especially for these groups.”

People accused of seriously abusing children or vulnerable adults, who try to escape justice by staying silent or blaming someone else, face up to 10 years in prison now that the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims (Amendment) Act 2012 has come into force.

The Act extends the offence of causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable adult to causing or allowing serious physical harm, like inflicting brain damage or broken bones.

Crown Prosecution Service data on cases where children were seriously harmed but no successful prosecution could be brought include a five-month-old baby who suffered a brain hemorrhage and fractured skull and a two-week-old with a broken collar bone, ribs and leg.

The Act is the result of a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Sir Paul Beresford MP, which the Government backed to ensure it became law.

“By making sure this Bill became law we have taken the opportunity to close a terrible loophole which has, until now, allowed people accused of seriously harming a child or vulnerable adult to escape unpunished,” said Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke. “We want to do everything possible to ensure that the most vulnerable members of our society are kept safe in their homes, and those that abuse their power do not evade justice.”

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