Posted: 02 August 2017

Wales' missing children

We know that 100,000 children go missing or run away from home or care in the UK every year. About 4,500 of these go missing in Wales.

There are some significant differences in how these children are supported compared to their peers in England – differences which, if bridged, could reduce the number of missing episodes in Wales and in some cases might stop a child from going missing altogether.

A missing link

When a child goes missing it is often a cry for help. Many run away due to abuse or neglect at home or in care, or because they have been groomed by adults who prey on them for sexual or criminal exploitation.

At the moment, children in Wales who are reported missing are less likely to get a return home interview than those in England. This is a vital tool that plays an important role in the process of safeguarding children from future missing episodes. Without it, the voice of the child may go unheard and their reasons for running away left unaddressed.

It is clear that we can do more to protect them.

What are return home interviews?

Return home interviews (in Wales, these are known as debriefs) are simply a chat with someone who will listen and won’t judge. They’re a chance for a child or young person to talk about why they went missing or ran away.

They give the young person the chance to talk about why they went missing

In England, every child who goes missing or runs away must get a return home interview from an independent person (like one of our practitioners). This person will listen to them and help them resolve issues.

Why do they matter?

Return home interviews are really important. They give the young person the chance to talk about why they went missing and what happened to them, so that they can be given the support and help they need to stop them from going missing again.

It’s crucial that all children and young people who go missing get help, so that the dangers in their lives can be tackled.

That’s why we’re calling for return home interviews to be made available for all children in Wales who go missing.

The Knowledge Gap

In our latest report, The Knowledge Gap, we explore the situation for missing children in Wales and how it’s different to England. We also share our policy recommendations for how the issues uncovered may be addressed – including the statutory requirement for independent debriefs across Wales.

Find out more about our work helping children and young people who go missing 



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