Inquiry after 'missing' boys are found in care

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The Independent Online

An inquiry is under way today after a police search for two missing boys was called off when it was discovered they had been found by a neighbouring force and placed in foster care.

The mothers of Joshua Gardiner, five, and Leon Leech, six, arelaunching formal complaints against social workers and police after spending a frantic Saturday night waiting for news of their missing sons.

Police officers, using a helicopter and dogs, searched the area around the boys' homes on the Segg Hayes estate near Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.

The boys had simply wandered off and were found three miles away in neighbouring Cheshire. Although they were found less than an hour after the launch of the search their parents were not informed until the following morning.

Cheshire police had collected the boys after concerned members of the public saw them looking tired and lost. When the youngsters could not remember their addresses they were put into care for the night.

Leon's mother, Emma Jones, 25, said: "I can't believe we have been up all night worried sick about our kids ... I don't know what's gone wrong but something has."

Sergeant Wendy Dyer, of Staffordshire Police, said they had only been informed by Cheshire social services yesterday morning that the boys had been found the previous night.