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Cafcass sees fall in new public law children’s cases in 2021/22 but number of open active children’s cases overall remains 17.6% higher than at start of pandemic

Cafcass saw a 6.2% reduction in public law children’s cases between April 2021 and March 2022 compared to its previous financial year, it has emerged.

There was a similar reduction in private children’s cases (7.2%) leading to a decrease in total case demand overall.

During the 2021/22 year, there were 16,500 new public law children’s cases, involving 26,543 children.

Cafcass said that, as at March 2022, there were 35,429 open active children’s cases, which was 5,293 (17.6%) more children’s cases compared to March 2020, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. These children’s cases involved 56,924 children.  

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Compared to March 2020, there were 1,754 additional open active children’s cases in public law (a 14.5% increase) and 3,539 additional open active children’s cases in private law (a 19.6% increase).

Ministry of Justice data released earlier this month showed that the average time for a care or supervision case to reach first disposal throughout 2021 was 45 weeks, up 6 weeks from 2020,

The Family Court Statistics Quarterly: October to December 2021 revealed that the average time for the final three months of 2021 was higher still at 47 weeks, up 5 weeks from the same quarter in 2020.

The MoJ publication also showed that in 2021 fewer than a quarter of cases (23%) were disposed of within 26 weeks, the statutory target introduced by the Children and Families Act 2014. This was down 8 percentage points compared to 2020.

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