Children in north of England 70% more likely to face care process, study shows |Louise Tickle THE GUARDIAN, Monday 3 July 2017.
Vulnerable children facing being taken into care are 70% more likely to end up in care proceedings if they live in north-west or north-east England than those living in London or the south-east, research has found.
The findings from Lancaster University’s Centre for Child and Family Justice Research highlight a stark north-south divide. The research, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, shows that the north-west of England registered the highest rate of care orders in 2015-16, with courts agreeing to 46% of care applications, compared with London which had the lowest rate. In the capital, just a quarter of applications resulted in a child going into foster care or being placed for adoption.
Prof Judith Harwin, who co-led the study to be published on Monday, said: “Our finding that children living in the north have significantly higher risk of ending up in care proceedings says to me that children’s vulnerabilities to risk are unequal, and children are bearing that risk.”
She added: “The north-east and north-west account for 27% of all children, but also for more than a third of all care proceedings. That forces the question: why?”
The likelihood of a child ending up in care proceedings also depends on where they live: the incidence of care proceedings in the north-east in 2015-16 was found to be 34 per 10,000, compared to outer London where it was about 13 per 10,000.
Attitudes to how much risk family court judges and local authorities are willing to bear once care proceedings are under way appear to vary dramatically across the country too, with children in London three times more likely to be returned to their families on supervision orders – 28% of cases – than in the north-west, which had the lowest rate of supervision orders at just 9%.
The inconsistency of approach between regions “raises questions about the fairness of the system”, Harwin said.