The number of children taken into the care of social services in Leeds has rocketed since the Baby P scandal, the YEP can reveal.
In a case which left the nation reeling, 17-month-old Peter Connelly died after suffering more than 50 injuries in an eight-month catalogue of abuse at the hands of his mother, her boyfriend and their lodger in London.
Since the furore surrounding Baby P’s death, the number of referrals made to Leeds City Council’s social services department has almost doubled.
More than 14,139 children were referred to social services between November 2010 and November last year – compared to 8,667 between 2008 and 2009.
Over 1,430 children are being looked after by the council, which has the fourth highest number of looked after children in England.
Before the Baby P scandal 1,340 Leeds children were in care in 2007. The figure peaked at 1,474 in March this year.
Coun Judith Blake, executive board member for children’s services, said: “There is no doubt at all that the figures started to grow at a great rate after high profile child protection cases such as Victoria Climbie and Baby P.
“I think it reflected the high level of concern and had the impact of encouraging people to make the referrals earlier. The heightened profile has had a massive impact on everyone’s reaction to risk.”
Children are referred to social services for many reasons including neglect and concerns that youngsters aren’t being adequately cared for. Referrals come from health workers, police or from children’s schools.
Coun Blake said: “There has been a national response to the very high profile and very distressing cases.
“We will always put the safety of the child first. That has to be our absolute priority.”