17 Apr 2012

The Missing Persons Bureau has brought together the most comprehensive picture yet of the number of people reported missing across the country and it’s a shocking picture - the majority, over 130,000 are children under 17. Yet these figures can only tell part of the story.

The Children’s Society’s own research, referenced by the report, shows that a great number of missing children are running away from home or care. It shows that as few as one third of children who run away are actually reported to the police – so the true scale of the problem is far larger than the report figures reveal.

The Children’s Society has worked with runaway children for 25 years and knows that hundreds of children fleeing home every week are never reported at all.

'More must be done to capture the true scale of the problem'

Lily Carter, Director of Campaigns for The Children’s Society said:

'The Missing Persons Bureau is clearly taking seriously the issue of missing children and their work to improve the recording of reported incidents is welcome. But more must be done to capture the true scale of the problem - tens of thousands of runaways are unreported, so they go "under the radar", not getting the support and services they need to keep them safe. Self report surveys would be one way to expose the true numbers of children running away from home and their level of need.

'Running away must always be seen as a cry for help and a "red flag" indicating that a child is in need. The risks faced by children who run away are very serious indeed. In the absence of proper professional support, children do what they must to survive and many sleep rough, beg and steal, fall prey to dangerous adults or are exploited sexually.' 


Media enquiries

For more information, please call Paul Martin in The Children’s Society media team on 020 7841 4422 or email paul.martin@childrenssociety.org.uk. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.

Notes to editors

  • In June 2011 The Children’s Society launched the Make Runaways Safe campaign. We have been campaigning to safeguard and protect young runaways for more than 25 years. We have nine projects working with children who run away, or are at risk of being sexually exploited, supporting more than 1,000 children every year.
  • To find out more about the campaign please visit the Make Runaways Safe website or call 0845 300 1128.
  • The Children’s Society wants to create a society where children and young people are valued, respected and happy. We are committed to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, including children in care and young runaways. We give a voice to disabled children, help young refugees to rebuild their lives and provide relief for young carers. Through our campaigns and research, we seek to influence policy and perceptions so that young people have a better chance in life.