Referrals up by 60% in last year

Concerns have been raised over the welfare of children in East Dunbartonshire after a major spike in referrals to the Children’s Reporter.

Statistics from the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA) show the number of child protection referrals have increased by almost 60 per cent in the last year.

A total of 386 welfare-based reports were received in 2013-14 — up from 242 in 2012-13.

The total number of children subject to these referrals increased by over 43 per cent over the last 12 months.

The children’s reporter also receives reports based on offence grounds, which have decreased dramatically over the last few years.

A spokesperson for the SCRA said: “Nationally we have seen a reduction in the number of children and young people referred to the Reporter in Scotland in 2013/14.

“However, there have been increases in some areas, including East Dunbartonshire, and we will continue to work with partners to ensure that only children and young people who require compulsory measures of intervention in their lives are referred to the reporter.”

While reports by social work agencies are now included in the SCRA figures, the police remain the single biggest source of welfare-based referrals.

Chief Inspector Rob Hay, area commander for East Dunbartonshire, said: “We are committed to working in partnership in this area and we work closely with our partners in East Dunbartonshire Council to identify those suitable for the Early & Effective Intervention Scheme (EEI) and diversion opportunities.

“It is as a result of this partnership approach that we have seen a reduction in offending by under 16s of 44% in the last three years.”

Anyone who has concerns about a child can contact ChildLine on 0800 1111 or the NSPCC’s free 24-hour helpline on 0808 800 5000.