The survey, undertaken using the Freedom of Information Act, revealed that whilst some local authorities can account for all of the young people in their care, 41 local authorities have children and young people who are missing, with no knowledge of their whereabouts. One local authority reported losing 110 young people since the year 2000. Worryingly, a further 6 local authorities could not respond to the survey because they keep no record of children who have gone missing from their care.
The figures reveal that there is a particular problem in the South East of England, where the reported figures tend to be higher. However, this is a nation-wide problem. From the information provided, a high number of those children and young people who are missing seem to be unaccompanied asylum seekers.
It is worrying that hundreds of the UK’s most vulnerable young people seem to be disappearing into thin air. That some local authorities could not answer our questions because they did not keep track of the data is shocking. If those local authorities can not even keep track of where their vulnerable young people are, how can they be relied upon to ensure their safety?
Victoria Hull, Care Leavers’ Association National Development Worker