Around two out of every 100 North East children ran away from home or care in the last year, new figures reveal.
2,378 young people - aged 10 to 17 - were reported to have gone missing in the Northumbria Police area according to statistics just released for the period up to the end of March 2009. This is 1.74% of the 137,000 children in that age group within the region. Previous research from The Children's Society also suggests that two-thirds of young people who go missing are not reported to the police.
In Newcastle alone, 500 young people were reported missing last year. They often run away in an attempt to escape abuse, violence and conflict.
The new figures were released to coincide with The Children’s Society partnership with Metro Radio’s Cash for Kids campaign. The aim is to raise £100,000 for the charity’s SCARPA (Safeguarding Children At Risk - Prevention & Action), project that works to help children who run away.
SCARPA provides them with a safe place, support to sort their problems out, help to give up risky behaviour and advice on getting out of relationships where they are being exploited. Projects like SCARPA are badly needed because every year in the UK over 100,000 children run away from home or care. But it urgently needs more funds to continue supporting these vulnerable young people.
Metro Radio’s Cash for Kids campaign is currently recruiting 25 listeners to take part in a ten day trek to Machu Picchu – the Lost City of the Incas – in Peru to raise money for the project. Each of the participants, who will embark on the challenge on October 1 2010, must commit to raising a minimum of £4,000 each for this excellent cause.
Northumbria Police's Detective Inspector John Watts, head of Newcastle Area Command's Public Protection Unit, said: "SCARPA is an excellent service which is making a difference in terms of early intervention and prevention work and in supporting Newcastle's Safeguarding Children Board to protect young people.
'It's an independent service which works closely with us and our partners to identify the young people most at risk of going missing from home and supports us in developing strategies for supporting these young people. It's a charity that relies on funding and I hope it continues to receive support.'
The Children’s Society’s Chief Executive Bob Reitemeier said: 'One young runaway at risk on the streets is too many. We set up SCARPA to ensure that North-East children who feel compelled to run away are helped to stay safe and free from exploitation or harm.
'That is why we are delighted to receive the support of Metro Radio’s Cash For Kids campaign in raising funds so that the vital work that SCARPA does in the area can continue.'
 The Children's Society, Still Running II (2005), The Children's Society
NOTES TO EDITORS
- The Children’s Society is a leading children’s charity committed to making childhood better for all children in the UK.
- Find out more about Metro Radio’s Cash for Kids Campaign: http://www.metroradio.co.uk/charity/
- SCARPA provides targeted youth support to young people who go missing or are at risk of sexual exploitation. The service is delivered from a base in Newcastle city centre. Address: SCARPA, Brunswick Methodist Church, Brunswick Place, Newcastle, NE1 7BJ Tel: 0191 221 0836.
- The figures used in this report were provided by Northumbria Police. Young people aged 10 to 17 reported to have gone missing from home or care March 2008-09:
North Tyneside: 397
South Tyneside 322
- There is a total of 136,971 children in the 10-17 age group in these areas. Source: Office for National Statistics, http://www.statistics.gov.uk/hub/index.html