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4,000 babies marked as ‘at risk’ before birth

New figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that thousands of babies are being put on ‘at risk’ registers each year by social workers. This is done even before they are born, The Mail on Sunday reports.

More than 4,000 child protection plans were implemented last year in England for unborn babies, a 13 per cent increase over two years.

The figure for the UK is likely to be nearer to 5,000. Also, hundreds of babies are being taken into care each year within days of birth.

Unborn babies were put on the registers as they were deemed to be at risk of neglect, physical or emotional abuse. Some of them had parents who were drug addicts, alcoholics or had serious criminal convictions.

Child protection experts insist it is right to keep newborns away from potentially dangerous parents, and argue they have to be more cautious following cases such as the death of Baby P and Daniel Pelka.

However, opponents say that the system presumes guilt and social workers are removing children to cover their own backs.

‘Once children are removed, only about 20 per cent go back to their parents,’ said John Hemming, Liberal Democrat MP.

‘With child protection, not every case is a Baby P case. But I know that social workers have been fired for saying that a child should go home to its parents. If you put them under that sort of pressure, they are going to say the child should be adopted.’

A child may be put on a protection register if doctors or social workers fear for its safety. The parents are invited to discuss the matter but do not have to be present for the child to be placed on the register. Once a child is registered as at risk, a protection plan will be drawn up, which in most cases will include regular visits from social workers.

Four-year-old Daniel Pelka died from a head injury after being starved and beaten by his mother and her lover. 17-month-old Baby P, later identified as Peter Connelly, died in London after suffering more than fifty injuries over an eight-month period.

The latest figures from the Department for Education show that 52,120 under-18s became the subject of child protection plans in England in the year ending March 31 2012.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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