Children went missing from Norfolk’s council-run children’s homes 270 times in a year
PUBLISHED: 06:00 17 November 2018 | UPDATED: 10:29 18 November 2018
More than 200 children went missing from council-run children’s homes in Norfolk in the last academic year.
Between September 2017 and August 2018, young people were reported missing from Norfolk County Council’s nine children’s homes a total of 274 times – an increase on the previous 12-month period.
This includes 27 young people who went missing, 87 who were missing overnight and 104 who left their home without permission or returned late.
The data was included in a review of the county council’s residential children’s homes, presented to the children’s services committee on Tuesday.
At the meeting councillor Emma Corlett asked about the efficacy of safeguarding measures to protect children in council-run homes, particularly those who were vulnerable to exploitation or getting caught up in county lines.
“The processes in this area have improved over the last five years. Do you think everything that has been put in place is going to have the impact that we hope it will?” she said.
Phil Watson, the council’s assistant director of social work, said a “huge amount” was being done to improve the processes for children who go missing, and suggested a dedicated paper be passed to the council’s corporate parenting board.
A Norfolk County Council spokesman added: “We have more than 1,200 children in our care and the numbers going missing represent a very small proportion but we want to do all we can to keep these children safe.
“Over the last year we have worked with the national lead in this area to make sure that we are doing the absolute best for these children and recording and monitoring every incident. We believe this has contributed to the increase in the numbers recorded as going missing.”
An investigation by the Eastern Daily Press into privately-run children’s homes in Norfolk, which discovered problems including drug and alcohol misuse and absconding residents, was mentioned at the children’s services meeting.
Councillor Mike Smith-Clare said: “If we are highlighting issues with the homes, whether they are controlled [by the council] or not controlled, situations where our young people are experiencing difficulties when they should be experiencing care and support do not sit comfortably with me.”
Ms Tough suggested this issue also be referred to the council’s corporate parenting board.