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Children’s Commissioner’s report reveals millions of children in England living vulnerable or high risk lives

Report highlights ‘worrying gaps’ in official data

The Children's Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, has published new analysis that reveals, for the first time, the scale of vulnerability among children in England. The Children's Commissioner's Report on measuring the number of vulnerable children brings together a range of information held by various government departments, agencies and others. Its initial analysis reveals a host of shocking statistics about the number of children living in vulnerable situations.

However, these figures, according to the Children's Commissioner, are only the tip of the iceberg.

Many of the figures published in the report, it is believed, are likely to underestimate the actual number of children living vulnerable lives: many children are 'invisible' because they are not reported to services, or because of worrying gaps in available data. Over the next year the Commissioner will use her unique statutory powers to request data from local authorities, Government departments and others to fill in these gaps.

The aim of the report is to shine a light on the nature and scale of children's vulnerability in England and to look at how the thousands of 'invisible' children can be better identified. The report provides a set of 32 groups of children that have come to be associated with forms of vulnerability or risk.

The report is the first stage in a long-term programme of work which the Children's Commissioner will carry out on vulnerability. It starts with tackling the confusion about what counts as vulnerability. At the moment different criteria are often applied to the term "vulnerable" by different agencies involved with children and sometimes the same criteria are used but the term "vulnerable" isn't. Clarifying this unhelpful situation is not just a matter of efficiency and common sense but vital to reaching vulnerable children. The Children's Commissioner will now consult broadly on these definitions and develop a framework that can be used widely.

Behind the confusion are unidentified and invisible children, suffering a variety of harms and risks. The Children's Commissioner argues in her report that Government must do more to collect better data, and questions how effectively the problems outlined in the report can be tackled if departments and agencies don't know how many children are affected or cannot agree on how to define and therefore identify them.

To read the report, click here.