New research by NYAS Cymru and The Children’s Society reveals that every hour another child in Wales is reported missing.
The new report highlights how care-experienced children and young people are more likely to be reported missing than their peers. Despite making up only 1% of the child population in Wales, Freedom of Information requests found that 39% of the total missing child incidents recorded by local councils last year involved a child in care.
Children in Wales are more likely to repeatedly go missing than children in England, where Return Interviews are a legal requirement. Without effective intervention, children who go missing once are very likely to go missing again.
The report has been backed by all four Police and Crime Commissioners in Wales, as well as national charities and public bodies. It calls for:
- Independent Return Interviews must be a statutory requirement whenever children go missing in Wales. Every child must be entitled after a missing episode to an independent return interview, conducted by someone not employed by the police or local authority. Statutory guidance should include a standardised system of data recording, with information collated by Welsh Government.
- An annual missing children data report must be published by Welsh Government to identify trends and areas for improvement. This report should provide an analysis of ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors, and data on the number of Return Interviews offered and conducted in each local authority and police force area.
- Corporate parents should commission pilot projects to give tailored support to children who are repeatedly reported missing. These projects should be child-centred and develop best practice in preventing further missing episodes and reducing harm.
Sharon Lovell, Chief Executive of NYAS Cymru, said “Our Missing the Point steering group is made up of children’s charities, police commissioners and public sector bodies working hard to keep children at home and safe. We have worked together on this report to make sure that every child is listened to and safeguarded as a priority. Our recommendations are designed to protect the thousands of children who go missing across Wales every year.”
Tom Davies, Senior Policy and Public Affairs Officer for Wales, The Children’s Society, said “The case remains that too many young people in Wales who go missing do not receive a return home interview after a missing episode, which can help determine the appropriate support that the young person needs and can help prevent repeat missing episodes. It is crucial that Welsh Government make Return Interviews a statutory requirement, so as to ensure that any young person in Wales who goes missing can talk about their experience and receive the support that they need.”
The full report is available here in both English and Welsh language.