NEARLY 1,000 children lived in fear of violence, in poverty or were at risk of abuse in Swindon last year, the Adver can reveal.
A total of 993 children were deemed ‘in need’ at the end 2013-2014, according to figures released by Swindon Council.
The total represented a 27 per cent increase on the previous year, when 780 young people were found at risk.
The number of children on Child Protection Plans also rose by 45.6 per cent, from 147 in 2012-2013, to 214 by March this year.
The town’s rate, 45.4 per 10,000 population aged under 18, was also much higher than the 37.9 reported nationally.
Despite the statistics, Swindon Council believes that the increase is a direct result of renewed efforts to identify youngsters at risk.
“The term ‘child in need’ is used as a generic term to mean any child (or family) needing extra help from agencies to ensure they are better able to achieve to their full potential,” said a council spokesman.
“It might be, for example, a child with a disability, a child whose main carer is suffering from depression and needs support, a child/young person with behaviour difficulties, or a child for whom there are child protection concerns.
“The figures have gone up over the years across the whole country.
“This is partly because a variety of professionals – in both councils and across all the organisations working with children – are getting better at recognising children in need and referring them to councils for support.
“It is also because of the increase in investment that councils and government have made in ‘early help’ services.
“This means many more children and families are now able to access help earlier to prevent problems becoming more serious. Therefore, in part, the increase has been planned for.”
In Swindon, measures have been put in place over the years to better support children and families in need, the spokesman said.
The work is coordinated through the Early Help Strategy and commissioned through the local Children’s Trust Board.
He added: “The reason the number of children subject to child protection plans in particular has increased is linked to a number of factors interacting, and is a national issue.
“These include the Baby P case in Haringey and the Daniel Pelka case in Coventry, which led to increases in referrals from people worried about children in the community.”
Children are deemed ‘in need’ if they require intervention from agencies, but that does not include those with a child protection plan.
Children with behavioural difficulties
The children of carers who are depressed and need support
Children for whom there are child protection concerns
The figures for Swindon reveal:
993 children were deemed ‘in need’ at the end 2013/14 – an increase of 27 per cent
Children with a Child Protection Plan reached 214 by March this year – a rise of 45.6 per cent