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Published, 27 March 2018

Drop in looked after children for fifth year running

Scottish Government has published the Social Work Statistics for 2016/17. The figures show that at 31 July 2017, there were 14,897 looked after children, a 3% decrease on the previous year and the fifth consecutive decrease. There were 2,631 children on the child protection register, a 3% decrease and the third consecutive decrease.

Main highlights include:

Looked after children and young people

  • Increasing numbers of children looked after are going into legally secured permanence
  • The use of Permanence Orders is increasing as the use of Compulsory Supervision Orders drops
  • Adoptions of looked after children increased to its highest level on record
  • The number of children looked after at home continues to fall
  • Increasing numbers of children are being looked after away from home
  • The most common placement for looked after children is with foster carers


  • There were 5,653 young people reported to be eligible for aftercare services on 31 July 2017, 53% were known to be receiving aftercare
  • 47% of those receiving aftercare for whom current activity is known were in education, training or employment - 3% decrease on 2016
  • More of the 19 to 21 age group are not in education, training or employment, and more of this group are receiving aftercare compared to the other age groups
  • The proportion of aftercare eligible individuals who are known to have never been homeless has risen from 52% last year to 54% this year

Child protection

  • Emotional abuse is the most common concern that leads to children being placed on the child protection register
  • 53% of children on the child protection register were aged under five

Secure care

  • There were an average of 76 children or young people in secure care accommodation throughout 2016-17
  • Placements into secure units from outside Scotland account for 30% of secure unit admissions
  • The number of residents placed from Scottish local authorities has fallen

Covering the period from 1 August to 31 July, the information is collected from local authorities and secure units on children and young people, who were formally looked after, under child protection measures, or in secure care at some point during this period.

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94 Cathedral St, Glasgow G4 0LG
0141 444 8500

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