Children in danger zone shock figures

ONE in five of Bury’s most vulnerable children were back in danger after being identified as at-risk by the children’s services department, it has been revealed.

Figures seen by the Bury Times shows the local authority is among the 10 worst in the country for youngsters, who are in danger of being harmed, being back in “at-risk” situations.

Of the children who were identified as suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm, 20.3 per cent were taken off that register before being placed back on again.

This is higher than the national average of 13.8 per cent of children and the North West average of 15.3 per cent. The Bury figure of 20.3 per cent relates to children who became the subject of a child protection plan during the year ending March 31, for the second or subsequent time.

A child protection plan is drawn up when it decided a child is in danger of, or is, being harmed.

The Department for Education figures show that in Bury, 192 children became the subject of a child protection plan: 65 for neglect, 24 for physical abuse, 14 for sexual abuse and 89 for emotional abuse.

A Bury Council spokesman said: “The safeguarding of children in Bury is paramount, and we strongly reject any suggestion that we have put vulnerable youngsters ‘back in danger’.

“The whole point of having a formal child protection plan is precisely to help keep youngsters out of danger.

“Children subject to a child protection plan ordinarily reside with their parents for the duration of the plan. Children may be removed from a plan either because their parents have made significant improvements in the care they provide, their circumstances have changed significantly or because the concerns are such that the children can no longer safely remain in parental care and are placed in the care of the local authority subject to a court’s endorsement.

“There are a number of reasons why 20 per cent of the children previously subject to a child protection plan required a second formal protection plan in 2011. These included changing family circumstances, such as a parent being released from prison, or when a family who had moved away from Bury returned here.

“This should also be seen in the context that, at that time, the number of children needing a formal protection plan was the highest we have ever had, at 210. This figure has now fallen to 144.

“However, in the first six months of this year, the percentage of children needing a second protection plan has dropped to nearly 15 per cent, which is in line with the regional average and is close to the Government's “excellent” parameter of 10-15 per cent Furthermore, when a child is discharged from a protection plan, we and other agencies continue to provide support to ensure their well-being, despite them no longer having a formal plan. We will continue to do everything in our power to keep Bury’s youngsters safe.”

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