The Department for Children, Schools and Families has promised to tighten responsibilities on councils, police and other agencies in supporting young runaways, in an action plan published yesterday.
Guidance issued next year will include recommended standards for emergency accommodation and stress the importance of interviewing young people who have run away to assess their broader needs. It will also clarify the roles and responsibilities of agencies both within and across council borders and lay out procedures for gathering information on young runaways.
The update of the 2002 Missing from care and home guidance will focus particularly on young people in care, who are three times more likely to run away than other children.
It will be backed by the annual performance indicator for councils on monitoring the number of young runaways in their area, which authorities will be assessed against by the Audit Commission from 2009.
The plan follows a two-year campaign by charities to boost support for young runaways, led by the Children’s Society. A survey by the charity last year found that only 12% of areas had services in place for young runaways.
Andy McCullough, chair of the English Coalition for Runaway Children, described the action plan as “incredibly positive” but stressed the importance of delivering on it.
Facts and figures
The Children’s Society estimates that:
- 100,000 people under 16 run away from home and care each year in the UK.
- One in six young runaways sleep rough.
- One in 12 are hurt or harmed while they are away.
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