THE NUMBER of children on the child protection register in Monmouthshire has "increased substantially" this year, a report shows.

Figures show 138 children were listed on the register at the end of September, 2018, up from 73 in April of the same year.

It is also the highest amount on the register since figures dating back to 2013/14, according to a report which will be discussed by councillors this week.

A total of 105 children were placed on the register during the first six months of this year, compared to 114 during the whole of last year, the report shows.

At the same time the number of children coming off the register has also fallen considerably.

Between April and September, 41 children were deregistered, compared to 132 during the whole of last year.

The increase in numbers during the first six months takes the rate in Monmouthshire "some way above that of Wales" at the end of 2017/18, the council report notes.

A spokesman for the children's charity, the NSPCC, said a rise in the number of children on the child protection register is "always a cause for concern."

The spokesman said: "Part of the increase may be as a result of increased awareness of child protection issues following high-profile abuse or neglect cases in recent years, but the most important consideration must always be the safety and wellbeing of the child concerned."

Out of the 105 children added to the register in the first six months of the year, 5.7 per cent had a prior registration which ended in the preceding 12 months.

The report also shows almost one third of children receiving care in Monmouthshire have parents experiencing mental health issues.

Meanwhile, about one quarter have parents with substance misuse issues, while one in five children have experienced domestic abuse within their families.

The report, to be discussed by the council's children and young people select committee on Thursday, shows the number of looked after children also increased in the county.

Numbers went from 139 in April to 150 at the end of September, a rise said to be "broadly consistent with the Welsh picture."

Jane Rodgers, head of children's services at the council, says in the report: "The upward trend in children needing children protection or looked after services continues to put pressure on the service.

"We are confident, nevertheless that the thresholds for intervening are sound and reflective of real risks and needs within their families."

Monmouthshire council has been contacted for comment.