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Prime Minister David Cameron has called for a “culture change” in social services departments as he launched a national drive to encourage more couples to consider adopting children in care.

As government figures showed that one in four adopted children was forced to wait more than a year before they moved in with their new parents, Mr Cameron called for sweeping reforms to speed up the system, saying councils and courts were taking too long and asking “pointless questions” about adoptive parents.

“We need a real culture change in this country to be more pro-adoption,” he said. “For many children it is the right answer. But there are far too many stories today about pointless questions, very intrusive questions and also, a sort of tick-box mentality. There’s too much ticking of boxes and not enough discretion, judgment and responsibility.”

On average it takes more than two and a half years for a child to be adopted.

Statistics have shown there are nearly 16,000 children in local authority care in Scotland, but were only 218 adoptions last year. In Edinburgh over the last year, 18 adoptions were finalised and there are currently 40 children with prospective adopters.