More than 100 cases of Islington children in care reported missing

Julie Horten

Julie Horten - Credit: Archant

There have been more than 100 incidents of children under the care of Islington Council who have gone missing, new figures reveal.

Since 2011, 99 cases of looked after children who were placed outside the borough and eight cases of those placed inside Islington, have been reported.

Figures seen by the Islington Gazette show that the number of children in care who go missing is much lower, suggesting that some children are going missing more than once.

A total of 40 looked after children and young people were reported missing for more than 24 hours in the last four years and one person placed inside the borough is still missing.

The Liberal Democrats, who were behind the report, said the figures were “truly shocking” and have demanded the council introduce new measures to keep vulnerable children safe.

Cllr Julie Horten, Islington Lib Dem spokesman for children and young people, said: “The council admits that looked-after children have gone missing over 100 times in the past three years. It is truly shocking that so many children in Islington’s care can just vanish like this.”

The highest number of incidents were recorded in 2013 when there were 48 and a total of 14 children reported missing.

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Cllr Horten added: “All the borough’s young people deserve the best start in life. The council needs to explain why this situation is getting worse year-on-year and come up with a proper plan to keep our children safe.”

Children in care who run away are “particularly vulnerable” and at risk of sexual exploitation, according to Government guidance on the issue.

An Ofsted report published last year highlighted concerns about all local authorities’ work on missing children in care. It found that risk management plans were inadequate, placements were unstable and follow-up checks after the children returned to care were not taking place.

A spokeswoman for Islington Council said: “The safety and wellbeing of young people in care is the council’s highest priority, and we’re keenly aware that any young person who runs away is vulnerable.

“Islington has good data because we take the matter so seriously, which may make it appear that we have a worse record than others, but clearly not all local authorities collect data on this issue yet. We are then able to be very proactive about how we tackle this matter and how we follow up each case.

“We work hard to minimise the risk of young people running away, including involving children in choosing their placement, so they are as happy with it as they can be. If a young person does run away we work closely with police to find them, and when they return specially-trained staff will talk to them to understand why they left.

“Our work with missing children is scrutinised by the Islington Children Safeguarding Board. Islington already complies with all the recommendations made in the report.”

Freedom of Information requests were sent to all 32 London borough councils. In neighbouring Hackney, there were 15 incidents of children in care reported missing. Camden Council did not submit figures