National register call for lost children

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THE Chief Inspector of Ofsted has called for a new national register of missing children to be created

Sir Michael Wilshaw said it was “profoundly worrying” that so little information was available at a time when there were concerns about vulnerable children falling victim to sexual exploitation.

Ofsted has published a new report, Missing children, which found the figures recorded by local authorities and the police were significantly different in most areas – reflecting concern that data about missing children is flawed at a national level.

Sir Michael said he welcomed the Government’s commitment this week to gather more robust data on children who go missing from care.

Children’s Minister Edward Timpson said the Government would begin to pilot a new data collection in the next few months on all children who go missing from their placement – not just those missing for 24 hours – to enable better analysis and more effective practice to combat the problem.

Sir Michael said: “We all have a duty to ensure children are safe and protected. The recent shocking cases of child sexual exploitation in Rochdale, Rotherham and other parts of the country highlight just how vulnerable children can be when they go missing.

“Our report makes clear the urgent need for agencies to have access to a single, accurate and comprehensive register so they can properly track children who go missing and understand any trends or patterns. We are therefore pleased that the Government has started to get a grip of this important issue. This is long overdue.”

The Missing children report surveyed 10 local authorities, exploring how children at risk of going missing or running away from home are safeguarded.

Children represented around two-thirds of the 360,000 missing person incidents in 2009–10. Children in care are three times more likely to go missing than children who are not in care.