MPs launch inquiry into ‘catastrophic’ failing of youngsters missing from children’s homes

Record numbers of vulnerable children are going missing after being “farmed out” to children’s homes many miles from the areas in which they live, MPs have warned.

The All-Party Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults said a “sent away” generation of young people was in danger of falling prey to paedophiles and drugs gangs.

The group – which is launching an inquiry into the issue – said figures from the Department for Education showed 1,990 children in out-of-area placements went missing in 2018 – more than double the total of 990 in 2015.

It said almost two thirds (64%) of children living in children’s homes were now living out-of-borough, compared with 46% in 2012.

In 2018, 3,990 children were sent to live in homes out-of-area compared with 2,250 in 2012 – an increase of 77%.

Issuing a call for evidence, the group’s chairwoman Ann Coffey (pictured) said the system was “catastrophically” failing the young people it was supposed to protect.

“It shames us all that thousands of vulnerable children continue to be farmed out to live miles and miles away from home despite a Government promise to clamp down on numbers,” she said.

“Isolated and alone without family, friends or local social workers to help protect them, they become sitting ducks for those who wish to prey on them.

“They are targeted by paedophiles and drugs gangs and can become trapped in a brutal world.

“The children’s homes system is broken. It is catastrophically failing children and young people and is instead working in the interest of private providers.”

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