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Bradford Council to sign Children's Society charter on runaways
9:00am Sunday 28th October 2012 in News
Bradford Council has said it will be signing up to a charter created by a children’s charity to help tackle the plight of runaways after it was revealed 241 under- 18s went missing across the district over a six-month period this year.
Figures released by the Children’s Society show that an estimated 3,700 children go missing in West Yorkshire every year, equivalent to 71 children a week.
The latest figures for Bradford showed that from March 1 to September 30, 241 under-18s went missing and all of those returned. The ages of 14 and 15 are the most common age to go missing and the number one reason is parental conflict.
The Children’s Society created the Runaways Charter, a code for agencies with a duty to protect children who run away or go missing from home and care, in the wake of high-profile cases of exploitation of runaway children.
It calls on all councils in England to sign up to the charter and put a safety net in place to protect the 100,000 children who run away every year.
It includes having a set of protocols for preventing running away and dealing with incidents as soon as they happen. The charter has been co-written with young former runaways and asks councils to provide children with information on ‘safe places’ where they can get support.
Councillor Ralph Berry, Bradford Council’s executive member for children’s services, said: “We are in the process of signing up for the charter and work with the voluntary sector.
“There are specific processes in place for any ‘looked after children’ or foster children and we have just been inspected by Ofsted and we are very vigilant.
“Often running away can be the result of parental conflict at home, domestic violence or it could be an issue of school bullying.”
Elaine Hindal, director of advocacy and communications at The Children’s Society, said that when a child runs away from home, they become vulnerable to harm. “They often come into contact with drink or drugs and associate with adults who don’t have their best interests at heart,” she said.