Child protection enquiries at
Hackney Council are at less than half the rate of same period last year even as
domestic abuse referrals rise – an issue causing “particular concern” at the
There have been 13 Section 47
enquiries begun in the week ending 24 April, a 55% decrease on the 29 last
The children and families service
itself has seen a 46% decrease in referrals overall, dropping from 92 at the
same point last year to 50 in the year of the coronavirus crisis.
Sarah Wright, head of safeguarding
at the Town Hall, attributed the drop largely to a fall in referrals initiated
by local schools during lockdown.
Children’s services carry out
investigations following Section 47 enquiries, on the basis that there has been
a reasonable cause to suspect that a child who lives or is found in the area
‘is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm’.
Deputy Mayor Anntoinette Bramble,
who leads on education for the borough, said: “We’re concerned but not
surprised by the drop in referrals, and councils across the country are
reporting a similar picture.
“A significant proportion of the
referrals we usually receive come from schools, and with the majority of
children spending most of their time at home, they are less visible to
“However, looking after vulnerable
young people is one of the most important things we do, and despite the
challenges brought about by the pandemic, our staff are continuing to work with
children and families.
“We have redeployed staff within the
service so that we can do everything in our power to reach the young people who
need us, for example by supporting schools to maintain contact with children
they may be concerned about, and working alongside colleagues on our
coronavirus helpline in case safeguarding issues arise from any calls.
“We expect to see an increase
in referrals once children start to return to school and we are planning to
ensure we can respond to this.