Letter to The Times regarding vulnerable children in care homes who run away

11 May 2012

Dear Sir, 

We commend you for highlighting the plight of vulnerable children in care homes who run away into the arms of predatory sex abusers to be subjected to horrific exploitation. We have instigated and are in the process of conducting an all-party parliamentary inquiry into children missing from care. We are discovering that the system is far from fit for purpose for all children, which results in many being unnecessarily put at great risk, including children who run away.

Too many are going missing yet the official data is not capturing the full scale of the problem. Bureaucratic barriers are preventing information sharing between police and local authorities and thousands of children are being placed many miles away from the responsible local authority, which then fails to fulfil its corporate parenting responsibilities.

The Rochdale case has rightly prompted the Government to recognise the need for reform. But as we have been told by senior police officers, children’s practitioners in the voluntary and statutory sector and young people themselves who go missing, the failings have been known about for many years. Action is long overdue to make sure that every time a child runs away from care they are provided with a safety net.

Signed by:

  • Ann Coffey, MP, Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults; 
  • Shán Nicholas, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society; 
  • Natasha Finlayson, Chief Executive of the Who Cares? Trust; 
  • Alex Cunningham, Labour MP for Stockton North; 
  • Dan Rogerson, Liberal Democrat MP for North Cornwall; 
  • Martin Houghton-Brown, Chief Executive, Missing People; 
  • Craig Whittaker, Conservative MP for Calder Valley; 
  • Paul Goggins, Labour MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East.