Rise in children in care

Thursday, 31 May, 2007

A SUFFOLK MP has voiced his concerned after new figures were released in Parliament today revealing a 64 per cent rise in the number of children subject to care proceedings in the county.

David Ruffley MP for Stowmarket and Bury St. Edmunds has claimed the new figures reveal that the increase in child care proceedings in the county are 'out of step' with the rest of the region.

He said: 'This could mean that either the County Council is making a particular effort in this area or that the situation in Suffolk is worse that in neighbouring counties.

'I hope that this increase is simply the result of the work that Suffolk County Council is doing to ensure the wellbeing of children in our County.'

The new House of Commons figures were released by Harriet Harman, Minister of State, on request by Mr Ruffley and show the number of applications made for a care order in the counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk in 2003 to 2006.

While the number in Suffolk dips in 2004 to only 32 cases, it rises to 148 in 2006, an increase of 64 per cent compared with the previous 90 cases in 2005.

However, the figures for all seven counties appear to fluctuate significantly and the cases of care proceedings remain relatively low compared with the neighbouring counties of Norfolk and Hertfordshire, who both experienced more than 200 applications for proceedings in 2006.

Cllr Patricia O'Brien, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for Children, Schools and Young People's Services, said: 'The wellbeing of children and young people in our county is of utmost importance to us.

'We need to make sure that children are protected from harm, and have the best possible opportunities in life.

'This can mean putting care proceedings in place to ensure their safety - it's not something we do lightly, but it is often necessary.

'The number of young people in this situation can fluctuate depending on things like birth rates.

'An increase like this does not signify anything other than us doing our job properly, which I'm sure people would agree, is very important.'