Thousands of Leeds kids on ‘at risk’ register

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thousands of children across Leeds thought to be at risk of physical, emotional or sexual abuse have been referred to social services.

More than 9,900 referrals were made to Leeds City Council’s children’s social services department in just one year.

And child care officials are anxious to hear of any case where help is not needed, and which is not being addressed.

The authority is ranked sixth out of 152 authorities across the whole country for having one of the highest number of child referral rates.

Thousands of youngsters in the city have also been placed on a special census to help gain extra support or protection from the council.

More than 8,500 children were put on the Children in Need census between 2009 and 2010.

Around 5,530 were on the census on March 31 last year and over 3,400 of the youngsters were thought to be victims of abuse or neglect in Leeds.At least 600 disabled children were included on the census on March 31 last year. A further 428 children were put on the census because they had dysfunctional family issues.

Hundreds of children across the city have also been listed on a child protection register or are the subject of individual child protection plans.

Around 590 children were placed on a child protection plan during 2009 and 2010 and 551 youngsters were subject to the plans on March 31 last year.

The registers contain confidential details of children who are at continuing risk of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect.

In England, a child protection register is no longer held but information is collected on children who are the subject of a child protection plan.

Child protection plans or child protection registrations help to give some indication of the scale of a problem by providing figures for children who are judged to be at risk of significant harm.

Over 950 children in Leeds were considered to be at risk of “serious harm”.

There were 46,709 children on child protection registers or the subject of child protection plans across the country on March 31 2010.

Nigel Richardson, director of children’s services at Leeds City Council, said: “We are committed to safeguarding the children in our city and we would encourage anyone who has any concerns over the safety of a child to contact us.

“We work with many organisations to ensure the right intervention is made depending on individual cases.

“Child protection plans are put in place to help us and other agencies work with the family and help them overcome the issues which are affecting their ability to look after their child.

“Ultimately these plans help us protect children who may be at risk.

“The fact that we rank highly on this census is in part because Leeds is the second biggest metropolitan authority in the country.”

A spokeswoman for the authority also pointed out that the area covered by Leeds City Council has a population of 760,000 while just 485,000 people live within Manchester City Council’s boundaries.

Earlier this year, inspectors from Ofsted hailed as “remarkable and impressive” improvements to children’s services in Leeds.

The inspectors found the services had made considerable progress since concerns were raised in 2009 that council failures were putting vulnerable youngsters at risk.

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