THERE are four times more children identified as at risk of abuse or neglect per head of child population in Northern Ireland than in the Republic of Ireland, The Detail can reveal.
Official statistics from government agencies, north and south, reveal a significant difference in the number of children on the child protection register in both jurisdictions.
Children are recorded on child protection registers, north and south, where a child is deemed to be at ongoing risk of “significant harm” because of concerns of abuse or neglect.
There are almost three times as many children, under the age of 18, in the Republic of Ireland (1,148,000) than in Northern Ireland (434,000).
Quarterly data from the Department of Health in Northern Ireland and the child and family agency, Tusla, in the republic illustrate a consistent and significant difference in the number and rate of children at risk between both jurisdictions.
Between December 2014 and December 2016 the number of children on the child protection register in Northern Ireland averaged 49 per 10,000 children. During the same period the average number of children on the child protection register in the republic was 12 per 10,000 children.
The latest quarterly figures also suggest the gap is widening even further, moving closer to a fivefold difference. At the end of December 2016 there were 2,206 children on the child protection register in the north and 1,272 children on the child protection register in the south. This means 51 in every 10,000 children in the north were deemed to be at risk of abuse or neglect and registered with social care agencies compared to 11 children per 10,000 child population in the south.
Official data also reveals significant variation across both jurisdictions, with areas in the republic recording consistently lower rates of children at risk, as illustrated in the graphic below.
The Dublin South East and Wicklow service area had the lowest registration rate of children at risk at three children in every 10,000 at the end of December 2016; by contrast 59 children in every 10,000 were registered as being at risk in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, which serves parts of counties Down, Armagh, and Tyrone.
Click here to read The Detail's story on the gap in children at risk rates in both jurisdictions.