More than 10,000 cases of child criminal exploitation and a dramatic rise in referrals from schools have contributed to rising levels of children in need.

Official figures for the 2021/22 financial year show that there were 404,310 children in need, an increase of 4.1% on 2020/21. This includes 50,920 children on protection plans, an increase of 1.8% (DfE, 2022).

As part of these figures, for the first time councils have been required to record the number of cases in which child criminal exploitation was identified as a factor. This includes cases of criminals grooming and exploiting children into county lines drug-dealing, or to commit other crimes like shoplifting, car theft or serious violence.

The latest figures show that child criminal exploitation was identified as a factor in 10,140 cases.

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