Courts Service Statistics 2013
We publish here the statistics for applications in the District Court made under the Child Care Act for the four types of orders provided for in the Act: Supervision Orders, Care Orders (until a child is 18 or for such shorter time as the court may decide), Interim Care Orders and Emergency Care Orders. This is the third year we publish these figures, which can now be compared with those for the two previous years, 2011 and 2012, available on this website.
These figures should be read with great caution. The Courts Service does not have a standard national template for recording family law statistics, so different District Court offices may do so differently. Also, mistakes can occur. We have already pointed out that most District Courts record each renewal of an Interim Care Order as a fresh order, though this is not the case in all courts. Sometimes when orders are sought or granted for a number of children in the same family they may be recorded as separate orders. This may explain some of the apparent differences in the levels of applications between towns of similar size. Thus the number of applications does not correspond to the number of cases or individual children, and Courts Service figures for applications are very different from the CFA figures for children in care.
With all these caveats, the figures do show court activity on child care. This year they show a small reduction in applications compared with 2012, halting a rise over the last number of years. The total number of applications (which includes a large number of renewals of Interim Care Orders) in 2013 was 8,714, down from 9,315 in 2012. Eighty-three per cent of the applications, or 7,266, were granted, the same as last year. The reduction in the total number of applications is mainly accounted for by a fall in the number of applications for Care Orders from 1,677 in 2012 to 1,117 in 2013, a reduction of 560 applications. Of these 1,117 applications 889 were granted in 2013, compared with 1,384 in 2012.
Large cities and towns account for most applications, with Dublin and Cork city between them making up half of all applications. Limerick, Wexford and Waterford had 452, 427 and 341 applications respectively. Galway city had 188 applications.
The figures continue to show great variations in the numbers of applications in different parts of the country, including between towns of similar size, though some of this could be explained by different recording practices. For example, there were only 13 applications in Tullamore, 30 in Monaghan, 42 in Mullingar, 50 in Carlow, 29 in Longford and 33 in Athlone. All these towns also showed low numbers of applications in previous years.
However, Clonmel had 276 applications, Letterkenny had 217 and Mallow 267, again reflecting the volumes of previous years. A low number of applications does not appear to be related to the likelihood or otherwise of a successful application: only one of the 33 applications in Athlone was granted, while 28 of the 29 were granted in Longford and 39 out of 42 in Mullingar. Nine of the 13 applications in Tullamore were successful. In Roscommon, all 45 applications were granted.
The fact that we now have three years’ figures enables us to identify some trends. Courts which tended to grant all or most applications in previous years generally continued to do so. For example, Tralee/Listowel and Trim granted every one of the applications sought in each of the last three years; over the three years Bray granted all but one of the applications sought, as did Roscommon, and Portlaoise granted all but five; Clonakilty granted all but four out of the 247 applications; Limerick granted 100 per cent of all applications in 2011 and 2012, and 98.6 per cent of those sought in 2013; Mallow did so in 2011 and 2012, and granted 93 per cent of those sought in 2013.
In contrast, Cork granted all the orders sought in 2011 and 2012, but only 80 per cent of them in 2013. Dublin granted 95 per cent of all orders sought in 2011, but this apparently fell to around 80 per cent in both 2012 and 2013. However, some of this may be accounted for by the CFA withdrawing an application, which does not feature in the statistics. Some courts are much less likely to grant orders than others, with Naas and Nenagh granting only 41 and 54 per cent respectively.
Also, as we have written before, the granting of an order does not necessarily mean it was granted in the terms sought – a Care Order sought until a child is 18, for example, may be granted for a much shorter period, or during a case the judge may suggest the withdrawal of an application for a Care Order and its substitution with an application for a Supervision Order. These modifications will not show in the Courts Service statistics.
|Full Care Orders||1,117||889|
|Interim Care Orders
|Emergency Care Orders||520||414|
By District Court, in alphabetical order (except Dublin, which is at the end)
|Dundalk (incorporating Drogheda)|
|Tralee (including Listowel)|