Rise in missing care children is ‘disgrace’

Terry Stacy

Terry Stacy - Credit: Archant

Those missing from outside the borough has doubled

Islington has seen the highest rise in the number of children in its care going missing in placements outside of borough between 2013 and 2014.

In a recent report published by the London Assembly’s Liberal Democrat group, the number of Islington children reported missing from out of borough placements rose from 11 in 2013 to 36 in 2014.

Studies have shown that half of all youngsters in children’s homes live outside their own local authority, often a major factor in causing them to run away, with many of them deemed vulnerable to sexual exploitation or substance misuse, according to the report.

A further 13 children in the care of Islington Council were reported missing within the borough in 2014, in a total of 18 incidents.

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Figures seen by the Islington Gazette suggest that some children are going missing more than once.

This is the second report conducted by the Liberal Democrat Group and has prompted concerns that data relating to runaway children is not being recorded properly by local authorities.

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Terry Stacy, former Lib Dem leader of Islington Council said: “We were assured back in 2013 that the Labour-led council had put measures and provisions in place to keep tabs and protect these children, but it’s clear now that those assurances weren’t worth the paper they were written on. It is an absolute disgrace that the council are not keeping proper records of these vulnerable children.”

Det Supt Stuart Ryan, chairman of the Met’s missing and child sexual exploitation sub group for Islington, said that the borough’s figures did not stand out against others of a similar size and that a change in the way police categorise missing children had caused the increase.

He added: “The reality is that children which are placed in care outside Islington – often the area they grew up in – do not necessarily stop seeking to return, for example, to see and meet friends, or attend areas where their personal risk may become heightened.

“With our partners in the Islington Safeguarding Children’s Board, we are committed to safeguarding and identifying children at risk in the community.”

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