A national charity is calling on the government to set up a separate department to establish the scale and nature of the problem of missing children in the UK.
Launching a new report this week, Parents and Abducted Children Together (Pact) have demanded the issue of missing children be given a much higher priority and that a national strategy be drawn up to tackle the problem.
Pact described the current situation in the UK as chaotic, with no central body responsible for collating information on missing children and no standard definition of when a child should be classified as “missing” or at what age they cease to be a child.
Catherine Meyer, founder of Pact and principal author of the report, said: “It’s an absolute scandal that there are no nationally gathered statistics on missing children. It’s about time that the Home Office took this in hand and created a new department to start collating information properly.”
Meyer said that although official statistics taken from reports made to the police suggested that 100,000 children went missing each year, this figure was hugely unreliable as every police force had a different policy on when and under what circumstances children were deemed to be missing, and because some runaways were never reported missing at all.
The charity believes the UK should follow the lead of the United States, which has created the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to act as a “clearing house” and offer support and advice to agencies trying to find missing children.
Every Five Minutes from www.pact-online.org