Part 1 (April to September) 2020-21

Serious incident notifications

Data guidance



This guidance describes the data included in the Serious incident notifications transparency data release. The release methodology, available on the release web page should be referenced alongside this data. It provides information on the data source, coverage and quality as well as explaining methodology used in producing the data.


Notifiable incidents are those that involve death or serious harm to a child where abuse or neglect is known or suspected, and the deaths of looked after children, whether or not abuse or neglect is known or suspected. Local authorities in England must notify the Secretary of State of such incidents via the Child Safeguarding Incident Notification System.

File formats and conventions


This dataset has not had rounding applied. 


The following convention is used throughout the underlying data. 

‘c’ confidential (characteristic breakdowns of 2 or fewer).

Data files

All data files associated with this releases are listed below with guidance on their content. To download any of these files, please visit our data catalogue.

Serious incident notifications

Geographic levels
Time period
2018-19 Part 1 (Apr to Sep) to 2020-21 Part 1 (Apr to Sep)

National level transparency data providing the number of percentage of serious incident notifications each half year since the 2018-19 financial year. The data is broken down by the following:

  • age group;
  • gender;
  • ethnicity;
  • disability;
  • notification nature;
  • placement type; and
  • whether the child is known to other agencies or has a Child Protection Plan (CPP).
Variable names and descriptions

Variable names and descriptions for this file are provided below:

Variable nameVariable description
categorySerious incident notifications by characteristic
numberNumber of serious incident notifications
percentagePercentage of serious incident notifications
  1. "Other" includes a small number of incidents that occurred in lodgings and youth offender institutions.
  2. "Hospital" includes a small number of incidents that occurred in mother and baby units.
  3. Care should be taken when interpreting these figures. Not all local authorities' management information systems allow for this information to be recorded. Also, local authorities must notify the Department of an incident within 5 working days, by which time whether the child has a child protection plan, or whether the child is known to other agencies, may not yet be known. The proportion is, therefore, likely to be an undercount.
  4. "Residential children's home" includes a small number of incidents that occurred in residential schools.
  5. Incidents relating to child sexual exploitation are included within "serious harm" and incidents involving child perpetrators are included in "other".
  6. Whether a child was “known to other agencies” is interpreted differently across local authorities and so these figures should be treated with caution. Some local authorities only include children known to Children's Social Care but in other cases can include agencies such as the police or babies under midwife care.