MORE than 150 newborn babies in Hampshire have been taken into care through court orders in the past 10 years, new figure reveal.

This includes a decade high of 26 in 2017-18, with 19 aged less than a week old.

But across the county, information obtained through Freedom of Information requests has revealed that 156 babies – aged no more than 29 days old, were placed in the care of Hampshire County Council through Section 31 care orders.

Under the Children Act 1989, this law allows a court to place a child in the care of a designated local authority, with responsibility being shared between the public body and the baby’s parents.

But these orders are only made if the court is satisfied that harm or potential harm could occur if the child remains in the sole custody of the parents.

The data also revealed that the numbers have more than tripled since 2008/09, with seven newborns taken into care that year.

In 2009/10 the number stayed the same, followed by 13 in 2010/11 and 12 in 2011/12.

However, 23 were taken into care in 2012/13, but this dropped to a five-year low of 10 the following year.

In 2014/15, 17 newborn babies were subject to the Section 31 order, 19 in 2015/16, and 22 in 2016/17.

Southampton City Council recorded zero in the same time period. It was also revealed that, of the 156, 90 were less than a week old, and two – one in both 2015/16 and 2016/17 – were less than a day old.

A spokesperson for Hampshire County Council said: “Hampshire is the third largest shire authority in England and supports children and families so that children can remain at home safely wherever possible.

“Where a young child could be at risk of significant harm by remaining at home, the circumstances are presented to the family court for the judge to make a decision on the best arrangement for the child.

“More often than not following a court order involving a young child, they will either be placed with wider members of their family or, where this is not possible, placed with approved adoptive families.”

Information received also showed that 45 Hampshire babies, aged between 29 and 91 days old, were taken into care by the authority in the same period.