New figures show the average length of public law supervision proceedings was 46 weeks and 61 weeks for private law.

Cafcass, which represents the interests of children and young people in the family court, has published its annual report for 2022/23 which shows there were 32,904 open cases, involving 53,463 children, in March 2023.

The figure is a small fall from 35,429 open cases (56,924 children) in 2022 and 36,822 (58,916 children) in 2021 but a 10.9% increase on 2020 when there were 30,136 open cases involving 48,218 children.

The report said: ‘Delay for children as a result of longer case durations is now the single most pressing issue for the family justice system.’

The average length of public law care and supervision proceedings during the last reported quarter, from January to March 2023, is 46 weeks and in private law rises to 61 weeks.

Two issues were highlighted as arising from the delays: the ‘significant impact on children’ in proceedings, and the increased work required from family court advisers and managers as assessments become out of date by the time of the hearing.

Cafcass chief executive Jacky Tiotto and chair of the Cafcass board Sally Cheshire said: ‘These last few years have been challenging and there are no simple fixes to the enduring difficulties and impact of longer case durations, demand variations across the country and recruitment and retention concerns in many places.’