Report of the Strategic Director, Care Wellbeing and Learning
Committee received the annual missing from care report which informs on missing episodes between December 2018 and November 2019.
During the year there was 908 missing and absent episodes, 624 (68.7%) of which were from LAC, this is an increase from 65% the previous year. A small cohort of 159 young people went missing for over 24 hours, 63% of which were LAC.
It was reported that a significant number of missing episodes were from residential homes, however this was due to a small cohort of young people. In relation to residential homes, including out of borough provision, one young person went missing 27 times, another went missing 23 times and a further five young people went missing between 16 and 19 times each. This accounts for 136 or the 202 missing episodes.
In terms of foster care placements, the majority of missing episodes related to seven young people who have over 10 episodes each.
Return interviews are offered by experienced workers in order to identify any risks and to try and break the cycle of missing episodes. It was noted however that a lot of young people do not engage, 292 return interviews were offered during the year with only 155 (43 young people) taking up the offer, this is only an uptake of 53-58%. The intelligence received from these return interviews is fed into the MSET and information is shared across the service and various agencies. Work continues to reduce missing episodes with incentives being offered to young people, for example driving lessons.
It is anticipated that the statistics will remain similar due to the types of young people in care. There are concerns around young people meeting older men off the internet and work is underway to educate as well as preventative work. It was noted that there is a balance between keeping young people safe but also working with the networks each young person has.
It was questioned as to what happens if a young person goes missing to their birth families. It was confirmed that staff continue to try and work with families and in some cases the Police can issue Child Abduction Notices. It was noted that some families help and send the young person back to care.
It was queried whether there is any evidence that missing episodes are in relation to county lines. It was confirmed that there is no evidence at this point although this is being monitored and that there are some young males who have been involved in drug running.
It was suggested that in the next report the last five years figures should be shown. It was agreed and noted that episodes are increasing year on year but still in relation to a similar number of young people.
Committee questioned what support Foster Carers receive when a young person in their care goes missing. It was noted that this is one of the reasons why foster care placements break down. Support is offered through Link Workers and the safe care policy can be adjusted. The point was made that those young people going missing regularly will end up in residential care.
RESOLVED - (i) That the information be noted.
(ii) That the Missing from Care reports continue to be
received on an annual basis.