NOTTINGHAM NONCELAND

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More than 170 Nottinghamshire children in care go missing in a year

The number of Nottinghamshire children in care who go missing is
soaring because public services cannot cope, it has been claimed.

Figures published by Nottinghamshire County Council show 94 children
were reported as missing from its care in the 12 months to March 2013.

This had risen to 176 in a year by March 2016 and since April another 71 county children have disappeared from care.

The numbers were revealed in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, published on the council’s website, and do not cover children reported missing from care in the city, which is run by Nottingham City Council.

Steve Edwards, the county council’s director of children’s social
care, said: “The police have changed their definition of missing which
means they are now recording more missing children. We’ve also got an
increase in the older teenage population – and they do go missing from
time to time more often than younger children do.

“And 84 per cent of those were found safe and returned home within 24 hours.

“There were one or two cases where children go missing for some time –
we’re talking about 15, 16 or 17-year-olds that may have gone missing
from a care placement to stay with family or friends that we haven’t
been able to locate, and those we monitor really carefully.”

But police officer representatives said shrinking resources in the public sector could also be to blame.

foi-nottinghamshire-children-missing-in-care

The council’s figures show big increases in missing children in care every year since 2013

Each missing person report is passed on to Notts Police, who then
assign each incident to a specialist missing persons co-ordinator.

The force deals with around 400 missing persons reports a month – around two-thirds of them children.

Dave Keen, chairman of the Nottinghamshire branch of the Police
Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said he feared the
shrinking resources of Notts Police meant officers spent less time
working with social services to prevent children going missing in the
first place.

notts police

Both Notts Police and Notts County Council face shrinking annual budgets

“When you talk about an increase in missing people it is going to tie up an ever-dwindling number of front line staff.

“Now whether or not the increase is because we are finding it harder
and harder to interact with the children’s homes because we’ve got fewer
and fewer neighbourhood staff that are out there, that is possible.

“The more and more missing people we are having to deal with – quite
rightly – then the more and more you are not going to see police
officers patrolling the streets, there will be almost zero pro-active
patrols.”

Notts Police has had to reduce its annual budget by a total of £54
million over the last four years because of cuts in Government grants
and increased costs. Nottinghamshire County Council has had to save
around £154 million in the last three years for similar reasons.

Notts TV News has also asked Nottingham City Council for the same figures for children in its care.

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