Exploring the feasibility of a survey measuring child abuse in the UK

Closed 30 Apr 2021

Opened 21 Jan 2021


Please note: The closing date for this consultation has been extended to 30/04/2021

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is looking for feedback to inform a feasibility study exploring whether a new survey to measure the current prevalence of child abuse in the UK could be successful.

Child abuse is an appalling crime and can have a lasting effect, with research suggesting that outcomes can be experienced in the short-term and the long-term following abuse.

As there is no single source reporting the current scale of child abuse in the UK, we do not know how many children are experiencing abuse today. It is vital that statistics are improved to help measure the current prevalence of child abuse.

In September 2015, the National Statistician’s Crime Statistics Advisory Committee recommended that Government should commission a new UK-wide prevalence study of all forms of abuse and neglect of children to establish a reliable time series of data.

The information gathered in such a survey could be used by policy makers, service providers and practitioners to hopefully, over time, help reduce the prevalence of child abuse and improve victims' experiences of services.

Why we are consulting

The ONS is currently in the process of assessing the feasibility of a survey measuring the prevalence of child abuse in the UK and have recently released an article outlining our findings to date.

We have identified some key areas that need further investigation before a conclusion can be made on whether a such survey could be successful and we can progress to the next phase (which would involve running a pilot survey).

In order to help us make this decision, it’s crucial we fully understand your needs for a survey, and invite views on our proposals. We would also welcome feedback on proposed plans for the next phase of our feasibility study.

We welcome feedback from anyone with an interest in child protection and child protection policy.

In particular, we would like feedback from:

  • decision or policy makers working in national or local government
  • anyone who works with or represents children, or has experience working with children or adults who have experienced abuse as a child
  • researchers with an interest or expertise in using data and statistics to research children and young people
  • analysts with survey expertise, particularly on surveys of sensitive topics with children

What we are asking

We will be asking questions based on:

  • the need for improved statistics to understand the prevalence and nature of child abuse in the UK
  • the impact of not having this data
  • whether the proposed survey includes the key elements that you feel are important and meet your need
  • whether there are any important considerations missing that should be explored in the research

All feedback is invited and appreciated; we value all perspectives.

How to respond

We encourage you to respond online wherever possible. However, responses by email will be also be accepted.

There is more information in the consultation document at the bottom of this page, which you may wish to read before completing your response. The document also includes a list of the consultation questions, should you wish to download and provide your comments by email.

If you are responding by email, please send your response to: ONS.Consultations@ons.gov.uk


All material relating to this consultation can be provided in braille, large print or audio formats on request. British Sign Language interpreters can also be requested for any supporting events.


  • Analysts
  • Academics
  • Charities
  • Government
  • Health professionals
  • Local government
  • Police
  • Policy managers
  • Researchers
  • Statisticians
  • Think tanks


  • Crime
  • Health
  • Statistics
  • Data
  • Formal consultations
  • Surveys