Public law data

Our public law data shows regularly updated statistics showing both national and local trends for:

  • the total number of public law applications
  • the number of care order applications made by local authorities and the number of children involved (monthly)
  • the length of time taken to complete care and supervision proceedings (quarterly)
  • the rate of care order applications by local authorities (annually).

 

Note: Cafcass demand statistics are published on the tenth working day of each month. Figures are provided from our national databases, the current electronic case management system (ECMS) and historical case management system (CMS). The ECMS is a live system and any late entries will be accounted for upon the release of subsequent updates to this data.

If you have any queries about the statistics, please contact us via our website form.

If a local authority has serious concerns about the safety or welfare of a child, it can apply to the court to take the child into care. Find out more information about care order applications.

Number of Public law applications received

  • Monthly statistics

    The number of public law applications received per month and the number of children involved nationally can be seen in the table below.

    Latest release: We received 16,637 new public law cases between April 2019 and February 2020 featuring 26,830 children; this represents a decrease of 0.8% (141 public law cases) and a decrease of 2.8% (760 children) on the 16,778 new public law cases received and the 27,590 children on those cases between April and February 2019.

    You can download February 2020 Public law demand, which contains the latest official statistics for public law applications.

    Public law applications received
    2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20
    Cases Children Cases Children Cases Children Cases Children
    Apr 1,596 2,541 1,394 2,352 1,460 2,425 1,506 2,465
    May 1,515 2,435 1,587 2,596 1,735 2,790 1,617 2,680
    Jun 1,640 2,752 1,705 2,782 1,485 2,489 1,452 2,350
    Jul 1,638 2,684 1,632 2,728 1,590 2,676 1,741 2,880
    Aug 1,613 2,666 1,631 2,650 1,614 2,626 1,498 2,447
    Sep 1,546 2,534 1,466 2,416 1,437 2,413 1,394 2,194
    Oct 1,482 2,440 1,600 2,653 1,641 2,698 1,623 2,610
    Nov 1,636 2,664 1,628 2,652 1,640 2,803 1,535 2,374
    Dec 1,392 2,310 1,357 2,226 1,308 2,126 1,317 2,116
    Jan 1,468 2,356 1,594 2,512 1,450 2,247 1,532 2,409
    Feb 1,509 2,498 1,581 2,598 1,418 2,297 1,422 2,305
    Mar 1,715 2,838 1,672 2,840 1,590 2,641
    Total 18,750 30,718 18,847 31,005 18,368 30,231 16,637 26,830

     

  • Annual summaries

    April 2018 – March 2019

    • Between April 2018 and March 2019 Cafcass received a total of 18,368 applications

     

    April 2017 – March 2018

    • Between April 2017 and March 2018 Cafcass received a total of 18,847 applications.

     

    April 2016 – March 2017

    • Between April 2016 and March 2017 Cafcass received a total of 18,750 applications.

Number of care applications received

  • Monthly statistics

    The number of care order applications received per month and the number of children involved nationally can be seen in the table below. Data broken down by local area (local authority) shows the number of applications and the number of children involved in them per quarter. This also shows the annual rate of applications in each local authority proportionate to the population of children in each area.

    Latest release: We received 11,978 new care applications from April 2019 to February 2020, which is -3.8% (-471) fewer than the same period in 2018/19. These applications involved 19,334 children, which is -4.6% (-926 children) fewer than April 2019 to January 2020.

    You can download February 2020 Public law demand, which contains the latest official statistics for care applications.

    *Please note that a significant IT transition in June 2018 may have affected monthly totals for June.

    Care applications received

    2016-17

    2017-18

    2018-19

    2019-20

    Cases
    Children
    Cases
    Children
    Cases
    Children
    Cases
    Children
    Apr 1,225 1,978 1,046 1,805 1,109 1,839 1,096 1,790
    May 1,160 1,902 1,196 1,987 1,302 2,060 1,165 1,922
    Jun 1,284 2,185 1,329 2,195 *1,076 1,784 1,024 1,693
    Jul 1,307 2,142 1,246 2,117 1,233 2,055 1,239 2,000
    Aug 1,259 2,092 1,242 2,030 1,180 1,910 1,096 1,782
    Sep 1,235 2,058 1,107 1,867 1,063 1,746 1,010 1,608
    Oct 1,155 1,911 1,200 2,020 1,238 2,017 1,188 1,904
    Nov 1,295 2,129 1,228 2,015 1,203 2,045 1,096 1,703
    Dec 1,094 1,835 1,022 1,685 983 1,578 958 1,557
    Jan 1,135 1,809 1,172 1,859 1,059 1,618 1,082 1,711
    Feb 1,152 1,918 1,193 1,944 1,004 1,608 1,024 1,664
    Mar 1,298 2,177 1,240 2,092 1,126 1,850
    Total 14,599  24,136 14,222  23,616 13,575  22,110 11,978  19,334

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Annual summaries

    April 2018 – March 2019

    • Between April 2018 and March 2019 Cafcass received a total of 13,575 applications.
    • This figure is 4.8% lower when compared with the previous financial year.

     

    April 2017 – March 2018

    • Between April 2017 and March 2018 Cafcass received a total of 14,222 applications.
    • This figure is 2.7% lower when compared with the previous financial year.

     

    April 2016 – March 2017

    • Between April 2016 and March 2017 Cafcass received a total of 14,599 applications.
    • This figure is 14% higher when compared with the previous financial year.

 

How long care and supervision cases last

 

The target length of time for completing care and supervision (s31) cases, as set out in the Public Law Outline (PLO), is 26 weeks.

  • Quarterly statistics

    Cafcass collects data showing Case duration per quarter broken down by local authority.

    Cafcass produces ‘heat maps’ showing how each Designated Family Judge (DFJ) area is performing in relation to the PLO target of 26 weeks.

    Latest release: In Q3 of 2019-20 the national average for care and supervision (s31) application duration is 34 calendar weeks.

    Please refer to the DFJ Duration Trend file for historical information – DFJ Duration Trend History

    Note: The duration is measured from when the application is issued to when the application completes. Applications may be in relation to one child only, or many children. All average durations are presented to the nearest whole week and calculated from the total number of calendar days it takes to complete. See more details for how the calculations are made.

  • Annual summaries

    The average for 2019-20 so far is 32 calendar weeks, this is up by 1 week on the previous year.

    The average for 2018-19 was 31 calendar weeks, this is up by 2 weeks on the previous year.

    The average for 2017-18 was 29 calendar weeks, this is up by 1 week on the previous year.

    The average for 2016-17 was 28 calendar weeks, this is down by 1 week on the previous year.

    The average for 2015-16 was 29 calendar weeks, this is down by 1 week on the previous year.

    The average for 2014-15 was 30 calendar weeks, a seven week reduction compared with the average of 37 weeks for 2013-14

    The average for 2013-14 was 37 calendar weeks, an eleven week reduction compared with the average of 48 calendar weeks for 2012-13.

    The average for 2012-13 was 48 weeks, a nine week reduction compared with the average of 57 weeks for 2011-12.

 

National picture of care applications in England  

 

Cafcass produces annual statistics on the number of care applications received per 10,000 child population – the rate of care applications – by each local authority (LA) in England with children’s services responsibilities. The latest information available is for the years 2008-2009 to 2016-2017.

The rate of care application is significant as it helps identify trends in care proceedings independent of population growth. 

The below table shows the national rates of care applications between the year 2009-2010 to 2018-2019. You can also download the Table of LA rates of care application per 10,000 population.

2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19
National Rate 8.0 8.3 9.0 9.7 9.2 9.7 11.0 12.5 12.2 11.4

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