Family court statistics quarterly: adoption figures down for 2nd year in a row

This latest statistical bulletin from government presents statistics on activity in the family courts of England and Wales and provides provisional figures for 2016 as well as the latest quarter (October to December 2016) with accompanying commentary and analysis. The statistics are used to monitor court workloads, to assist in the development of policy, and their subsequent monitoring and evaluation.

Family Court Statistics Visualisation Tool tool provides users with the capability to interrogate the published information at a lower level of detail.

Key Findings

The number of adoptions has fallen for the second year in a row.

Judges made 5,825 adoption orders in 2016, down from 6,196 the previous year. The drop is the second consecutive year the numbers have fallen and follows a reduction in the number of adoption placement orders made by councils – a fall from 6,247 in 2013 to 4,301 in 2014

There was a long-term rise in adoption applications and orders from 2011 until mid-2014, with applications and orders 40% higher for 2014 overall compared to 2011 (Figure 15). Numbers have since been declining, with 5,868 applications for an adoption order made in 2016 (from a peak of 6,830 in 2014) and 5,825 adoption orders issued (from a peak of 6,752 in 2014).

Other key findings are presented on pages 4-5 of the briefing:

  • Over 256,000 cases started in family courts in England and Wales in 2016, an increase over the previous two years mainly driven by increases in public law, private law and financial remedy cases. 
  • The number of public law cases started remained fairly steady between 2011 and 2014, until rising to 16,000 in 2015 and again to nearly 19,000 in 2016, an increase of 18% from the previous year. 
  • Although figures for Q4 2016 show the first downturn since the start of 2015, volumes are still up compared with Q4 2015. 
  • The number of private law cases started in 2016 increased by 11% over the previous year from 43,347 to 48,244. 
  • The average time for the disposal of a care or supervision application saw a long term downward trend seen from over 55 weeks in 2011 to 30 weeks in 2014. The drop continued, albeit at a reduced rate over the last two years, to an average of 28.3 weeks for 2015, and then to 26.9 weeks for 2016. 
  • Accordingly, the percentage of care or supervision proceedings disposed of within 26 weeks, increased from 12% in 2011 to 61% in 2016, following on from the 26 week time limit introduced in the Children and Families Act 2014. 
  • The number of applications for domestic violence remedy orders has remained stable over recent years at around 19,000 non-molestation and 4,700 occupation applications per annum. 
  • Following their introduction in July 2015, there have been 121 applications and 94 orders made for Female Genital Mutilation Protection Orders (FGMPOs) up to the end of 2016. 
  • 5,868 applications were made for an adoption order in 2016 compared to 6,259 in 2015, and a further drop from the 6,830 applications recorded for 2014. 
  • There has been a steady upward trend in the number of applications made under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, with nearly 30,000 made in 2016. The number of orders made however fell in 2016 to 26,494 from a high of 29,083 in the previous year. 
  • Applications relating to deprivation of liberty increased from 109 in 2013 to 525 in 2014 to 1,497 in 2015. Latest figures show another large increase, more than doubling to 3,143 applications in 2016.
  • The number of Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) received has been increasing considerably and steadily since 2008, from 52,494 to 590,593 in 2016.

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