This week, NYAS (National Youth Advocacy Service) Cymru have responded to an inquiry launched by the Children, Young People and Education (CYPE) Committee in Wales. The Committee’s inquiry, ‘Children and Young People on the Margins’, is seeking evidence on issues relating to missing children and children at risk of criminal exploitation in Wales. NYAS Cymru has welcomed this inquiry and the focus the Committee has placed on care-experienced children and young people within their work.

Care-experienced children are at a disproportionately higher risk of missing incidents and exploitation than their peers. Data collected by NYAS Cymru and The Children’s Society found that in 2020, 39% of the total missing child incidents in Welsh local authorities involved a child living in care, despite care-experienced children only making up 1% of the total child population in Wales.

NYAS Cymru are proud to be leaders in working to end the cycle that disproportionately places care-experienced children at a higher risk of missing and exploitation through our ‘Missing the Point’ campaign. The campaign sits alongside the All Wales ‘Missing the Point’ National Steering Group, which is chaired by NYAS Cymru and is made up of organisations all working to share best practice and reduce the number of missing children in Wales.  

Return interviews

A return interview is an opportunity for a child or young person to talk to a trusted adult about a missing incident from their perspective and what could be done to prevent them being missing in the future. In England, all care-experienced children and young people have a statutory right to the offer of an independent return interview. As part of our ‘Missing the Point’ campaign, NYAS Cymru has been calling on the Welsh Government to provide children in care to the same entitlement as care-experienced children and young people across the border.

NYAS Cymru inquiry response

To inform our inquiry response, NYAS Cymru ran a focus group with our return interview team in South Wales to better understand some of the current issues relating to missing children and criminal exploitation in Wales. Last year, NYAS Cymru’s South Wales return interview services provided over 300 return interviews in South Wales and we are proud that 86% of children and young people were very happy or happy with our return interview service.

In our response, we have repeated our calls for all care-experienced children and young people in Wales to have a statutory right to the offer of an independent return interview when they return from a missing incident. We believe that until children and young people are given a statutory entitlement to a return interview, the support received after missing incidents will remain inconsistent, unequal, and non-accessible for many across Wales.

We also called for a statutory definition of criminal exploitation, in support of NYAS’ ongoing involvement with the Victim and Prisoners Bill. NYAS has been working with a children’s coalition to amend the Victim and Prisoners bill and put children and young people at the heart of reforming the criminal justice system.


Our full response to the Committee’s inquiry can be found here.