23 Apr 2012

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults and the APPG for Looked after Children and Care Leavers is taking oral evidence from witnesses on Monday 23 April as part of its inquiry into the care and support provided for the thousands of children who go missing from care every year.

Children who go missing from care are in great danger of being physically or sexually abused. Research from The Children’s Society  reveals that a quarter of the 100,000 children who run away from care or home each year have been the victims of significant harm or abuse.

The opening session, led by Ann Coffey MP, focuses on trafficked children who are disappearing from local authority care.
Children as young as three are trafficked in the UK for purposes of exploitation. This can include forced labour such as cannabis cultivation and domestic servitude, as well as forced begging, forced marriage and sexual exploitation.

Frontline practitioners are very concerned by the numbers of child victims of trafficking going missing from care and never being found.

Chair of the APPG for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, Ann Coffey MP, said:
'Child victims of trafficking and exploitation often do not receive the level of care and protection they need to ensure their safety and well-being. This is a critical factor which traffickers exploit.
'This inquiry will provide the evidence needed to improve the safety and welfare of extremely vulnerable children affected by this terrible crime and aims to find concrete solutions for how we can prevent this from happening in the future. It is vital we unite in providing the support these children need and deserve.'
The inquiry comprises four oral evidence sessions; the first day focuses on child trafficking; following sessions examine issues around runaways. It will hear evidence from ministers, local authorities, service providers and specialist organisations and the police. A report is set to be published in the summer.
The inquiry is supported by The Children’s Society and The Who Cares? Trust.

Media enquiries

For more information, please call Beth Herzfeld in The Children’s Society media team on 020 7841 4422 or email beth.herzfeld@childrenssociety.org.uk. For out of hours enquiries please call 07810 796508.

Notes to editors:
• Child trafficking involves the transport of a child from one place to another either internally or cross border for the purpose of exploiting them for labour or sexual exploitation.
• The inquiry’s first session on children in care who have been trafficked, is being held on Monday 23 April, 3-5pm in the House of Commons.
• The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults works to raise awareness in Parliament of issues connected to children and adults who go missing or run away. The Group meets throughout the year to explore, discuss and debate key issues connected to going missing or running away. Through inquiries, stakeholder presentations and engaging with children, young people and families, the Group seeks to encourage the Government to put in place the best possible policy and legislation for children and adults who go missing or run away. 
• The Group was set up in 1998 to ensure that the voices of young people with experience of public care are heard by Government and that legislation addresses the particular needs of children and young people in and leaving care and to debate key policy and practice issues. The Groups’ meetings are attended by members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, representatives of voluntary organisations, childcare professionals and people who are currently in care or have past personal experience of the care system. The Group seeks to be a powerful voice on behalf of children and young people in and leaving care.