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13 Redbridge children go missing when in external care placements in 2013

13:00 05 May 2014

Caroline Pidgeon Photo credit: Mark Morris

Caroline Pidgeon Photo credit: Mark Morris

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Forty-six incidents of children going missing in care were recorded last year, according to a new report.

Caroline Pidgeon, a Liberal Democrat Greater London Assembly (GLA) member, published a report on the issue, called “Looked after Children: Missing from care” after submitting Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to all 32 London boroughs.

According to Redbridge Council, 13 children went missing in total when placed in care outside the borough. Four children made up 21 of the recorded incidents.

The council says the children were put in care outside the borough due to their “specialist needs”.

In wake of the report, Tom Rahilly, the NSPCC’s head of strategy and development, said: “Going missing from care can present a significant risk to children.

“It’s often an important warning sign they are suffering serious harm or at imminent risk of doing so.

“If any other child went missing their parent would rightly move heaven and earth to find them.”

Cllr Keith Prince, the Redbridge Council leader, defended the figure in spite of it being one of the highest in London out of 25 FOI requests responded to by local authorities.

He said: “It does not surprise me when you consider they are young adults.

“If a young adult does not return to their place of residence they may turn up tomorrow.”

Cllr Prince explained children are often placed outside the borough to help them.

He added: “We place them out of the borough so that they get away from their peer groups and peer pressure.”

New Scotland Yard revealed last month it was aware of 10 crime gangs targeting “nearly 3,000 children” not necessarily in care who could be “at risk of abuse or other mistreatment”.

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