To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate she has made of the number of looked-after children who were reported missing in each of the last three years; and if she will make a statement.
24 November 2017
Information on the number of looked after children who were reported missing in each of the last three years is published in in Table G1 of the statistical release ‘Children looked after in England including adoption: 2016 to 2017’ at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/children-looked-after-in-england-including-adoption-2016-to-2017.
The figures provide the number of looked after children reported as missing by local councils in each of the last three years. These statistics are experimental statistics based on data collected for the first time in 2015 and should be treated with caution as local councils’ recording of this information is improving over time. The figures are therefore not comparable between years and the information provided does not mean that the number of children going missing is increasing in the volumes indicated in Table G1.
Local councils have improved their reporting of missing incidents through increased collaboration with partner organisations and carers, updated recording systems, and further training for carers to improve understanding of reporting processes.
Local councils are responsible for protecting children whether they go missing from their family home or from local council care, and the department has issued statutory guidance on children who run away or go missing from home or care to help them in their role.
In January 2014 we strengthened care planning and children's homes regulations, including requiring all homes to ensure that they have clear policies for preventing children from going missing; also to respond when children do go missing, in line with local police protocols on ‘missing’.
We are working with the Home Office to update the 2011 Missing Persons strategy. It will, for the first time include an implementation plan setting out the key actions being taken across government to improve the current response to missing people.