An inquiry has been launched into the support available to children who run away or go missing from care in the UK.
Led by the all party parliamentary group (APPG) for runaway and missing children and adults and the APPG on looked-after children, the inquiry is expected to establish a clearer picture of local and national responses to looked-after children who go missing or run away.
It will look at what support is available to missing children, and which interventions are most effective. It will also examine how data is collected, and information shared, about children who are placed away from their home authority, as well as police responses and the role of inspection and assessment.
A report will be published in May, including a set of practcial recommendations for policy-makers to improve local and national responses to the problem.
It follows news last month that the government is not going to launch a national action plan on missing children and young runaways, which has disappointed campaigners.
Shān Nicholas, interim chief executive of The Children’s Society, which is supporting the inquiry, said there was an urgent need to address the issue.
“Far too often children who have run away or go missing are in great danger, with children in the care system disproportionately affected,” she said.
“This inquiry will focus on making sure that the correct support and care is in place for the thousands of children who run from home or care every year,” said the Earl of Listowel, vice-chair of the APPG on looked-after children and care leavers.
“We look forward to a clear set of recommendations for policy-makers across the board, which will make a real impact on the lives of these often very vulnerable children,” he added.
Research by The Children’s Society has revealed a quarter of the 100,000 children who run away from care or home each year have been the victims of significant harm or abuse, while children in care are three times as likely to run away than their peers.
Last year, an investigation by Community Care revealed councils across the country are flouting their legal duties by failing to keep accurate records of children missing from care.
- The APPGs would like to hear from children and young people with experiences of being looked-after and running away or going missing, local authority children’s services, voluntary organisations, police, fostering organisations and any other interested organisations.
The deadline for receiving written evidence is 23 April 2012. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit this link or call 020 7841 4485.
Councils fail to keep figures on missing children in care