Nearly 1,500 missing children reports in Suffolk in just six months
- Credit: Archant
Missing children have remained a source of "significant demand" for Suffolk police as a report revealed officers dealt with more than 1,400 in the last six months of 2021.
Between June and December 2021, there were 1,436 children, aged up to 18, reported missing in the county, constabulary figures show.
The statistics, from the accountability and performance panel paper relating to supporting children and young people, showed there were 421 individual missing children during those six months - and one child was reported missing on 51 separate occasions.
The report, which is due to be discussed by Tim Passmore, Suffolk's police and crime commissioner, and Chief Constable Steve Jupp, at a meeting on May 13, states: "Missing children has remained a source of significant demand for Suffolk Constabulary, particularly those children who reside within a care home setting and/or are vulnerable to exploitation.
"The monthly missing tactical and tasking co-ordination group, chaired by a Children Young Persons Service (CYPS) manager meets to ensure a partnership response to those children who are frequently missing or believed to be at risk of exploitation.
"If a child is identified at risk of exploitation, they are referred into the Multi-Agency Criminal Exploitation (MACE) panel."
The paper also revealed that 11,694 referrals were made to the county's Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) between July and December 2021 - which was an increase compared with figures between January and June.
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The report said: "The MASH has continued to experience high demand which has increased from 10,767 child contacts (referrals) between January and June 2021, to 11,694 between July and December 2021."
A spokeswoman for the NSPCC said: “Children go missing for many reasons; some are trying to escape from difficult and traumatic situations, while others will have been groomed for exploitation.
“It is vital that all missing children are treated as vulnerable and where there is any intelligence or evidence that a child has or is at risk of being abused then immediate effective steps must be taken to find them and to take them to a safe place.
“It is so important that children and young people are aware that whatever they are going through, they will be listened to and help and support is always available.”
Children can contact Childline for free on 0800 1111 or childline.org.uk 365 days a year, and speak to a counsellor about any worries or concerns.
The NSPCC helpline can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0808 800 5000.