Warning on children’s home failures

Published: Wednesday 29th October 2014 by The News Editor

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More than 3,000 children under the age of 18 have been reported missing in Greater Manchester this year, according to a new report.

It reveals the scale of youngsters at risk from sex grooming gangs a nd states that children are in danger of “falling off the radar” because of poor communications between children’s homes, local councils and police, according to its author, Stockport Labour MP Ann Coffey.

The report was commissioned by Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd following a series of child sex scandals in the area, often involving gangs of Asian men grooming vulnerable white girls.

One in five children and young people who go missing from home or care is at risk of serious harm, with “major concerns” about the links between children running away and the risks of child sexual exploitation, it said.

Figures prepared for the report by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) showed that 3,242 under-18s went missing from January to September 17 2014, generating 9,789 reports. Of those, 539 were children looked after by the local authority, generating 4,520 reports – almost half of all incidents.

Since January 17 this year, changes to the Children’s Homes Regulations 2001 mean that children’s homes which accept young people from outside their borough are required to notify the local authority that a child has been admitted to or discharged from their home.

But the report said this is not happening.

A local authority in the Midlands, which the report did not identify, recently placed seven children, all assessed as at high risk of sexual exploitation, into two private children’s homes in Stockport.

But the Stockport children’s homes did not inform the local authority or the police. The first instance of them coming to notice was when they went missing shortly after they arrived in Stockport and the police were called.

When the police attended to take a Missing From Home Report , the home staff were not able to provide any information of value to assist, as the placing authority had not provided the home with the required information.

A local authority from London and one from Wales have also placed children into Stockport children’s homes recently with similar issues, and again the local council and police were not notified.

The report states this is a “flagrant breach” of the new government guidance and means very vulnerable children are “falling off the radar”.

The police are still concerned that, where there is a risk of child sexual exploitation, information is not always shared with them by children’s homes where the youngster resides.

The report recommends “spot checks” on children’s homes to see if they are adhering to the new government guidance.

The full report will be published tomorrow.

Published: Wednesday 29th October 2014 by The News Editor

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