THE number of children reported missing from Bradford Council’s care has risen by 80 per cent in two years.

The figures have been obtained by the Telegraph & Argus as part of a Freedom of Information request.

Last year 155 ‘looked-after’ children aged 17 and younger were reported missing – 84 boys and 71 girls.

In 2015 86 were reported missing – 42 girls and 44 boys – while in 2016 70 girls and 62 boys were reported missing, a total of 132.

Now, some senior politicians are demanding answers from Bradford Council.

But Labour councillor Sinead Engel (Clayton), who raised the issue of children in care going missing at a Children’s Services Scrutiny Committee, cautioned that the 80 per cent figure was not as “terrifying” as it sounded.

“If you just look at raw data it looks to be terrifying but it’s not. Although every missing report is worrying, the majority turn out to be straightforward – a missed curfew at a children’s home or someone who has nipped home to see their mum,” she said. “Bradford has a strict protocol and the second a child is not where they should be then the matter is escalated and everyone gets involved.

“I believe that’s how it should be, I’d rather Bradford not be complacent.”

Of those missing in 2017, 29 were aged under 13, 11 were aged 13, 20 were aged 14, 37 were aged 15, 35 were 16 and 23 were aged 17.

The age group that saw the biggest leap in numbers between 2017 and 2015 was 17-year-olds, with 23 reported missing in 2017 compared to just six in 2015.

Conservative group leader Simon Cooke said: “In fairness to the council there may have been some change in definition as to when do you count someone as going missing but it’s really important the council makes every effort to prevent these children from going missing in the first place. The council needs to give a strong explanation why there are so many going missing and what they are doing to try and manage it.”

Bradford’s Liberal Democrat leader Jeanette Sunderland said: “Clearly something has changed with more young people going missing. It’s good we go looking for them but it’s a real concern that we have young people going missing in the first place. Maybe we need to review the processes to make sure we are doing all we can to keep them safe.”

Bradford Council’s strategic director of Children’s Services, Michael Jameson, said: “We have recently reviewed and changed how we record the number of missing children incidents. We take a very robust approach and whenever the whereabouts of a child in the council’s care cannot be established immediately they are recorded as being missing rather than absent. This approach is now being promoted across the other four West Yorkshire Police areas as good practice.”

“The change in the way we record incidents has contributed to the increase in the figures. Reducing missing children incidents is a key imperative of our new Children and Young People’s Plan and is an issue that, together with our partners, we are determined to tackle. We now have a team which includes dedicated police officer support to help us reduce this number.


“We know that 98 per cent of children who go missing from home receive a return to home interview which is shared with the police.

“We believe that taking a strong approach to both recording incidents and following up on cases is the best way to protect children and young people.”