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Report Reveals Increasing Complexity of Child Protection in Scotland

The Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA) has recently published the findings of research it undertook to try and establish whether child protection in Scotland has become more complex over time, and if so, in what way. 

The research looked at the lives of looked after children up to the age of three and their families over the period from 2003 to 2016, and found many examples of changing complexity.

According to the report, complexity had increased in a number of key areas, including:

  • “Extent of family fragmentation – separation of children from their parents and siblings. This was directly linked to changes in child protection practice resulting in more children aged under three years being removed from their parents’ care.
  • Residence with a child who is not a sibling.
  • Number of changes in Compulsory Supervision Orders. Contributory factors were increases in numbers of children with permanence plans, supervised contact with parents and earlier age of being taken into care.
  • Number of problems faced by parents, especially criminality. 
  • Presence of legal representatives in Hearings and number of relevant persons – both are directly linked to changes in legislation.”

However, the report also identified several decreases, including in the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation at birth and the number of changes of co-residents the child experienced.

In addition, a number of areas where there had been no change were highlighted, including the rates of parental separation and the rates of problems in the extended family.

Based on their findings, the researchers concluded that child protection in Scotland has become more complex. They highlight that this has implications for everyone involved in the child protection system, and particularly the families themselves.

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