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 cases received

  • Monthly statistics

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

    Latest release: We received 1,290 new public law cases in September 2021 featuring 1,977 children; this represents a decrease of 14.5% (219 public law cases) and a decrease of 17.1% (408 children) on the 1,509 new public law cases received and the 2,385 children on those cases in September 2020.

    You can download September 2021 public law demand data, which contains the latest official statistics for public law applications.

    Public law cases received


    2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21 2021-22

    Cases Children Cases Children Cases Children Cases Children Cases Children
    Apr 1,394 2,352 1,461 2,427 1,508 2,479 1,362 2,264 1,322 2,098
    May 1,587 2,596 1,736 2,792 1,622 2,701 1,435 2,393 1,362 2,170
    Jun 1,705 2,786 1,486 2,492 1,456 2,365 1,559 2,550 1,483 2,344
    Jul 1,632 2,724 1,591 2,683 1,740 2,896 1,729 2,788 1,475 2,338
    Aug 1,631 2,650 1,616 2,631 1,499 2,462 1,459 2,408 1,259 1,964
    Sep 1,466 2,416 1,435 2,413 1,394 2,211 1,509 2,385
    Oct 1,600 2,653 1,641 2,704 1,628 2,644 1,558 2,476
    Nov 1,628 2,652 1,639 2,804 1,533 2,425 1,490 2,353
    Dec 1,357 2,223 1,310 2,136 1,320 2,147 1,370 2,140
    Jan 1,594 2,512 1,450 2,253 1,530 2,447 1,147 1,802
    Feb 1,581 2,598 1,419 2,303 1,400 2,329 1,365 2,142
    Mar 1,672 2,841 1,590 2,641 1,421 2,297 1,602 2,557
    Total 18,847 31,003 18,374 30,279 18,051 29,403  17,585 28,259 6,901 10,914
  • Annual summaries

    April 2020 – March 2021

    • Between April 2020 and March 2021 Cafcass received a total of 17,581 applications

    April 2019 – March 2020

    • Between April 2019 and March 2020 Cafcass received a total of 18,040 applications

    April 2018 – March 2019

    • Between April 2018 and March 2019 Cafcass received a total of 18,365 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.

    Updates to this information is published on an annual basis.

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 896 new care applications in September 2021, which is 15.7% (167) fewer than the same period in 2020. These applications involved 1,407 children, which is 20.0% (352 children) fewer than September 2020.

    You can download September 2021 public law demand data, which contains the latest official statistics for care applications.

    Care applications received

    2017-18

    2018-19

    2019-20

    2020-21 2021-2022

    Applications Children Applications Children Applications Children Applications Children Applications Children
    Apr 1,010 1,794 1,077 1,865 1,051 1,789 1,034 1,785 886 1,466
    May 1,163 1,975 1,272 2,104 1,122 1,944 1,043 1,787 928 1,541
    Jun 1,290 2,197 1,054 1,847 991 1,693 1,109 1,897 1,006 1,659
    Jul 1,212 2,101 1,200 2,104 1,202 2,056 1,188 2,001 1,034 1,708
    Aug 1,208 2,026 1,153 1,968 1,059 1,829 1,033 1,763 840 1,331
    Sep 1,079 1,851 1,031 1,786 975 1,619 1,063 1,759 896 1,407
    Oct 1,163 2,017 1,209 2,063 1,161 1,947 1,082 1,787
    Nov 1,191 2,033 1,164 2,083 1,061 1,748 1,052 1,731
    Dec 985 1,689 949 1,616 935 1,594 958 1,585
    Jan 1,137 1,868 1,025 1,655 1,057 1,753 743 1,211
    Feb 1,169 1,983 969 1,653 986 1,726 931 1,529
    Mar 1,214 2,134 1,095 1,892 1,038 1,726 1,096 1,859
    Total 13,821 23,668 13,198 22,636 12,638  21,424 12,332 20,694 5,590 9,112

     

  • Annual summaries

    April 2020 – March 2021

    • Between April 2020 and March 2021 Cafcass received a total of 12,786 applications.
    • This figure is 2.39% lower when compared with the previous financial year.

    April 2019 – March 2020

    • Between April 2019 and March 2020 Cafcass received a total of 13,100 applications.
    • This figure is 3.5% lower when compared with the previous financial year.

    April 2018 – March 2019

    • Between April 2018 and March 2019 Cafcass received a total of 13,575 applications.
    • This figure is 4.5% 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.

    Updates to this information is published on an annual basis.

 

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 Q1 of 2021-22 the national average for care and supervision (s31) application duration is 44 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 2020-21 is 41 calendar weeks, this is up by 7 weeks on the previous year.

    The average for 2019-20 is 34 calendar weeks, this is up by 3 weeks 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
2019-20
National Rate 8.0 8.3 9.0 9.7 9.2 9.7 11.0 12.3 11.9 11.3 10.8

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