Shocking figures reveal more than 200 children have gone missing whilst in care of Essex County Council

News / Tue 20th Mar 2018 at 08:57am

Essex 17

By BBC Local Democracy Reporter

MORE than 200 children have gone missing while in the care of Essex County Council, figures have revealed.

The latest figures, which were revealed following a Freedom of Information request, come after concerns were raised about the welfare of the county’s most vulnerable youngsters.

Essex Police was criticised by inspectors in 2016 and 2017 for failing to properly investigate children at risk.

Essex County Council confirmed that 202 youngsters were registered as missing as of January 31, 2018. The authority has 657 in its care.

Councillors blamed budget cuts and vowed to do more to check the agencies responsible for safeguarding.

Conservative councillor, Jeff Henry, for Laindon Park and Fryerns, said it was important to scrutinise the work of the Independent Safeguarding Panel. to ensure it’s ‘robust in all its oversight’

He said: “Of course it’s a worry when any child goes missing, perhaps more so when it’s a child in the care system because life has already let them down,”
Fellow committee member, Labour county councillor Patricia Reed, Pitsea, said: “I will raise this at our next meeting in May.

“That seems an awful lot of children that are missing.”

A spokesman for Essex County Council said: “The figures on children going missing must be seen in context. Essex County Council is the second largest local authority in England, by population, and therefore is responsible for the care of a high number of children. The details of children missing from care are regularly reviewed by senior managers within the county council and its partner agencies, to help make sure that the multi-agency arrangements already in place remain effective.”

Independent county councillor Kerry Smith, for Basildon Westley Heights, blamed failures on safeguarding issues on budget cuts as a result of reduction in central Government funding.

He said: “We know there are gangs looking for young vulnerable people to traffic drugs. Other young people are being trafficked into the criminal sex business. But I think Essex County Council is doing all it can. With such a lack resources, it’s very difficult to do more.”

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary said in February 2017 that it ‘found some evidence of missed safeguarding opportunities in cases of missing children’. Essex Police said at the time that changes had been made.

An NSPCC described young people going repeatedly missing as ‘very disturbing’.

A spokesman said: “This behaviour may put children at serious risk of grooming and sexual exploitation by offenders who are known to target vulnerable young people.”

Young people who feel at risk can talk confidentially to NSPCC trained counsellors by calling 0800 1111 free ofcharge or via our 1-2-1 chat service at www.childline.org.uk.”

More information and support for children worried about running away or homelessness can be found on the Childline website.

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3 Comments for Shocking figures reveal more than 200 children have gone missing whilst in care of Essex County Council:

2018-03-20 12:25:26

Tory controlled Essex County Council. Nuff said.

2018-03-20 12:38:38

Tut Tut. Do the councillors actually work in the homes ? Don't keep proving you're an idiot. By the way, the cost of living has dropped.

2018-03-20 16:44:36

Oh Micky darling how I've missed you! By carrying on the heartless policies of their national government, like closing sure start centres, making benefits harder to come by with Universal Discredit and cutting funding to schools, Tories are the enemy of the young. And they want to attract more under 65s to their cause!!

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