A total of 266 children were removed from their homes under “place of safety warrants” during the last year as the number of cases hit what is believed to be their highest level yet. Meanwhile, child protection orders (CPOs) soared by 46 per cent between last April and March, increasing from 61 to 89, thought to be the largest figure for a single year.
CPOs involve the most serious cases where there is “urgent danger” of neglect and usually see the child, often a newborn baby, taken into foster care.
Council chiefs, who apply for the orders, said increasing “substance misuse” among parents in the Capital, particularly heroin, was partly responsible for the rise along with their focus on intervening early when children were at risk.
Among the most common reasons for the orders being granted are youngsters falling victim to violence and physical neglect. Parents with drink and drug addictions, mental health problems, and histories of offending or domestic abuse are also cited as factors.
The figures, compiled by the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA), reveal that the agency dealt with 1412 cases where a child in the Capital was suffering from a lack of parental care, a rise on 1328 for the previous year.
A city council spokeswoman said: “The SCRA report shows that through effective partnership working and early intervention we have continued to reduce youth offending. In other areas we continue to face serious challenges, such as the rising number of child protection cases.
“Parental substance abuse has continued to contribute significantly to the number of child protection orders in Edinburgh. Where children are at significant risk we will always seek to protect them to reduce harm and help them get the best possible start in life.”
The SCRA figures showed that the Children’s Reporter dealt with 299 children who committed crimes in the Capital last year, a fall on the previous year’s total of 355.
Another 96 children were reported for truanting, including five and six-year olds, while 21 were reported for abusing alcohol or drugs, the youngest aged 12.
Across Scotland, the number of CPOs issued last year rose to 781 from 678 the previous year, while place of safety warrants increased from 1922 to 1994.
In May, the Evening News revealed that the number of adults arrested for being drunk in charge of children in public had tripled during the last year.
A total of 18 people were charged with the offence between last April and March, compared with six for the same period a year before.