Councils have lost track of almost 400 young people in their care, figures published today reveal.
A survey of 172 authorities in England and Wales by the Care Leavers’ Association found that up to 389 looked-after young people were currently missing.
Most of the children were from local authorities in south-east England and were predominately asylum seekers.
41 councils report missing children
Forty-one councils could not account for the whereabouts of looked-after children, and one authority reported losing 110 young people from care since 2000. A further six councils could not respond to the Freedom of Information Act survey because they did not keep a record of children missing from care.
Victoria Hull, national development worker at the Care Leavers’ Association said: “It is worrying that hundreds of the UK’s most vulnerable young people seem to be disappearing into thin air. That some local authorities could not answer our questions because they did not keep track of the data is shocking. If those local authorities can’t even keep track of where their vulnerable young people are, how can they be relied upon to ensure their safety?”
Last year, research by children’s charities revealed that more than half of children known or suspected to be victims of trafficking in three English regions had gone missing from local authority care.