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Latest family court statistics confirm recent surge in public law applications

Public law applications running at 21% above a year ago

The Ministry of Justice has released statistics on activity in the family courts of England and Wales for the period of July to September 2016.

The number of public law cases starting has increased by 21% over the last 12 months from 4,060 to 4,932 in July to September 2016. Similarly, the number of children involved in public law applications increased by 20% over the same period to 9,082. The latest figures underline the concerns expressed recently by the President of the Family Division and the Lord Chief Justice. Following the publicity surrounding the Baby P case, the number of children involved in public law applications made by local authorities jumped from around 20,000 to almost 26,000 in 2009 and subsequently to 29,500 in 2011. Figures have remained fairly steady at around 7,000 per quarter until the increase over the last 12 months.

The average time for the disposal of a care or supervision application made in July to September 2016 was 26.6 weeks, remaining steady over the past year. 63% of care or supervision proceedings were disposed of within 26 weeks, following on from the 26 week time limit introduced in the Children and Families Act 2014.

In all, 64,109 cases started in family courts in England and Wales in July to September 2016, a 4% increase from the equivalent quarter in 2015. This is driven by increases in public law, private law and financial remedy cases.

The number of private law cases started in July to September 2016 increased by 14% from the equivalent quarter in 2015 to 12,687.

The average time for the disposal of public and private law cases has dropped by 1 week since July to September 2015.

The number of applications for domestic violence remedy orders has remained stable over the last year at around 4,800 non-molestation and 1,200 occupation applications.

Following their introduction in July 2015, there have been 97 applications and 79 orders made for Female Genital Mutilation Protection Orders (FGMPOs) up to the end of September 2016.

1,457 applications were made for an adoption order, unchanged from the same quarter in 2015.

There has been a steady upward trend in the number of applications and orders made under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and a 19% increase in applications in the latest quarter from July to September 2015.

Applications relating to deprivation of liberty doubled over the last 12 months from 386 made in July to September 2015 to 781 in the latest quarter.

For the full statistics, click here.