‘Absent’ vs ‘missing’ for children in care

Children|March 13th 2017

The Police regularly mishandle reports of children going missing from care, an international charity has claimed.

Too many forces class children in such circumstances as ‘absent’ and therefore not at risk it believes.

According to a recent National Crime Agency report, only a little number of regional forces routinely give children who run away from care homes and foster families the high priority classification of ‘missing’.

Andy McCullogh is policy and public affairs director for Railway Children, which works to help ‘street children’ in Africa, Indi and the UK.He said:

“It is worrying that the NCA report has identified some police forces to be still inappropriately classing all missing children from care only as absent, meaning the child is at ‘no apparent risk’, when the reality is they could be at serious risk of harm.”

A fast and accurate assessment of risk was vital to helping vulnerable children he insisted, as was the rapid sharing of reliable data.

Around 60 per cent of all missing people are children, the majority teenagers aged 15-17, according the National Crime Agency report. It highlights the efforts of some police force to tackle the issue. Avon and Somerset no longer use ‘absent’ for any missing children, while Northamptonshire avoid the term for those missing from care. Bedfordshire, meanwhile, no longer uses the term ‘absent’ for any missing persons cases at all, including adults.

Read the report here.

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