Figures released today reveal a startling number of children go missing from care each year, more than 75 a day on average. A significant difference from ‘official’ government figures.
The NSPCC found that almost 3,000 children repeatedly went missing from care last year, with police forces in England and Wales recording over 28,000 incidents.
A Freedom of Information request supplied by police forces revealed that last year they received reports involving 7,900 children between the ages of 6 and 17.
The Society is asking for more focused efforts to find out why so many go missing, as it fears that thousands of children are at risk from grooming gangs who target the vulnerable and sexually exploit them.
The NSPCC is calling for:
Repeatedly going missing from care to be seen by all professionals as a sign that children are at heightened risk of harm.
Children’s experiences of going missing from care to be put at the heart of professionals’ responses. Too often children say that they are punished for going missing while their concerns and fears are not listened to or understood.
Professionals working in residential homes to act like parents – finding out why a child went missing and how their needs can be met to keep them safe and prevent more incidents.
Police, children’s services and residential care providers to focus on preventing children going missing in the first place and returning them to safe care as quickly as possible when they do.
The government’s Department for Education refuses to accept the true number of children who go missing from care, and insist the number is less than 1000, despite police figures to prove otherwise.