National plan unveiled for missing children
Paul Vallely is Associate Editor of The Independent where he writes on social, ethical, political and cultural issues. He writes leaders, features and has a weekly column in the Independent on Sunday. He was co-author of the report of the Commission for Africa and has chaired several development charities.
Tuesday 06 December 2011
The first national strategy to deal with missing children and adults in England and Wales was launched by the Home Office yesterday. It is intended to bring greater co-operation between police, social services, schools and other authorities for the 400 children who run away from home or care – or are thrown out by their parents – every day in the UK.
Senior officers admit current guidance is not working well and families complain they have no one to turn to. But Enver Solomon, policy director of The Children's Society, said the new initiative will only make a difference if police and social services make it a priority. That means prevention strategies, education work and early intervention.
Every year 200,000 people go missing in the UK. The majority are children – about 100,000 – and vulnerable adults who need protection and support. Mr Solomon said: "Agencies need to share information better. Families need to be directed to the help available. And runaway children need a sympathetic interview from an independent social worker instead of the approach where police tell kids off for running away. The Government is sending a message to all professionals that this is unacceptable."
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