New report on care demand and regional variability | The Centre for Child and Family Justice Research

The Centre for Child and Family Justice Research has launched an important new report on care demand and regional variability.

This important new research presents the first published analysis of regional variability, identifying tangible and significant differences. It finds that women, as well as children, in the North, face the highest risk of care proceedings in the country and it points to consistent differences over time in the use of supervision orders and care orders.  While indicating that some of the differences may have more to do with professional cultures than other factors such as service availability, it also points to a need for further research before any conclusions can be drawn.

The report builds on research released last summer following a conference at Lancaster University. It updates the figures and expands the recommendations.

The Headlines

  • The North East and the South East currently have the highest volume of care proceedings.
  • The North West and North East have emerged as hot spots in regard to the risk of women and children coming before the courts in care proceedings. The probability of children and women becoming subject to or party to proceedings in these two regions is the highest in England.
  • London differs from all other circuits. It has the lowest risk of proceedings in relation to children and women.
  • Over time London has consistently made proportionately more supervision orders in which children remain or return to their birth parents.
  • London makes proportionately more use of family-based care, but it also has the highest proportion of ‘repeat’ children.

The report sets out the following specific recommendations:

  • In line with other studies such as the work of Bywaters and colleagues, the findings warrant further examination of the relationship between care demand and deprivation.
  • Given apparent differences in the use of legal orders, the findings also suggest that analysis of differences in professional behaviour is also important, as this also appears as a key factor in patterns and outcomes of family court activity.
  • Further probing of case characteristics would allow us to see if there are any systematic differences between the profiles of cases in the North and those elsewhere that might increase risk and the likelihood of the need for a care order.
  • Given that England and Wales are part of the same family justice system, it is important to explore regional variability across the two countries.

Please read the report in full: Care Demand and Regional Variability in England: 2010/11 to 2016/17

Other relevant publications

Publications – links provided via: Centre for Child and Family Justice Research | Lancaster University

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