12:00PM, Friday 30 March 2018
A total of 130 children went missing at some point from the Royal Borough’s children’s services last year, it has been revealed.
A Freedom of Information request showed three under-fives were recorded as missing in 2017 and 70 aged 15 to 17. It compares to 98 missing in 2016 and 64 in 2015.
Reasons a child may have been recorded as missing included wandering off, going to see friends or needing to clear their head.
But the Royal Borough cabinet member for children’s services, Cllr Natasha Airey (Con, Park), said in a statement: “A large number of these increased reports are assessed as a low-risk missing episode, such as being absent from school, but are an important part of making sure young people’s welfare is being looked after.”
The exact number of ‘low risk’ absences was not revealed, and it is not clear how long it took for children to be found.
Since August, the borough’s services have been run by Achieving for Children, owned by the Royal Borough and Kingston and Richmond councils. Its work includes early help and intervention, social care and school services.
Cllr Airey said: “Through our children’s services partner Achieving for Children we work closely with families and a variety of different organisations that come into contact with young people to ensure they are kept safe.
“Thanks to an increase in child sexual exploitation training and awareness among staff, partners and families, the number of missing children reports has increased. This increase in reporting shows the message that children’s welfare is everyone’s business is being taken seriously in the borough.
“The more people act on suspicions a child is acting differently, the more chance of spotting the signs that something isn’t right earlier and intervening for their benefit.”
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