Children in the north west of England are more likely to be taken into care proceedings, a Lancaster University study has found.
The findings highlight a north-south divide in the way children are dealt with by local authorities.
The north west and east, which comprises 27 per cent of children living in England, have emerged as a hotspot of concern as the two regions account for more than a third of all care proceedings in the country.
The North West had the lowest rate of supervision orders (court order placing children under provision of local authority) but the highest rate of care orders, at 46 per cent.
“The finding of a north-south divide in the use of supervision orders and care orders was unexpected,” said Professor Judith Harwin, centre co-director who led the study.
“Deciding on whether children should return home is one of the hardest decisions a court can make and risk appears to be weighed up differently in the north and south.
“We need to explore the dynamics behind these statistics but it raises questions about the fairness of the system.”
The research, uncovered by the Centre for Child and Family Justice Research at Lancaster University, come from two studies funded by the Nuffield Foundation – a study of recurrent care proceedings and a national study of supervision orders and special guardianship. The Lancaster researchers have called for the north to receive priority attention with more resource allocation and preventive family support strategies to help reduce the risk of children going into care.