Missing child case every eight hours in Suffolk during first half of year
- Credit: Archant
More detailed analysis of missing children cases has been commissioned as figures showed police dealt with more than 1,500 in the first six months of the year.
Police and crime commissioner (PCC) Tim Passmore highlighted the Rotherham abuse scandal as testament to the vulnerability of missing children – particularly from care – to an “underlying social malaise” of exploitation.
In line with rising national child protection demand, police recorded 1,503 episodes of missing children – one every eight hours – between January and June 2018.
Mr Passmore, who has asked the chief constable to report back on detailed circumstances of cases, said information sharing between authorities had improved – but that more should be done to stop children going missing at all.
“These are not just numbers; they’re children,” he added.
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“We have to remember some go missing repeatedly, but we have to analyse the problem by case and discuss what can be done.
“Problems with information sharing between agencies have been put right in the last year and there is now greater willingness to collaborate.
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“It’s unacceptable that children in the care of London boroughs have turned up in Ipswich. More must be done to prevent this happening in the first place.
“The consequences can be awful. We had a salient warning from Rotherham that children can be targeted by criminals.
“This underlying social malaise is of huge concern to me as PCC and a Suffolk resident.”
New local arrangements, being brought in following legislative changes as a result of the ‘Wood Review’, will build on what works well in Suffolk, where investment has been made in ‘return to home’ interviews, while a multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) has improved the application of laws requiring local authorities to investigate when social workers gather information that a referred child may be suffering harm.
Police said detailed and complex preventative work was taking place to safeguard children – and that engagement with the likes of Suffolk’s Safeguarding Children Board, Gangs and Youth Violence Board and Youth Offending Service, was key to preventing the exploitation of missing children.
“Our response will see each case assessed and see us working with a number of partner agencies, including the MASH, to address issues of risk of harm, abuse and neglect,” a spokesman added.