THE fact that 7,344 children have been reported missing since March last year – the equivalent of one every 96 minutes – has raised serious concerns.
These startling figures also reveal that a fifth of children who go missing are in care and that this figure is as high as 48 per cent in Calderdale.
Local authorities, police and missing people’s charities are already working together to tackle the problem; however, the scale of the numbers involved demands a major rethink, done quickly.
More than a quarter of people who go missing do so more than once which is putting them at greater risk of physical abuse, grooming and sexual exploitation.
There is no easy answer to this problem: we live in a different world from that which existed even just a couple of decades ago as families have become fragmented and lifestyles more itinerant.
At the same time care services and the police are having to contend with increasing workloads and fewer resources. Nevertheless, the vexed question of why so many children are going missing has to be better addressed.
These are among the most vulnerable members of society and they deserve a care system that protects and nurtures them. If we cannot provide this, then we, as a county, have failed those who need our help the most.