Vulnerable kids going missing repeatedly
PUBLISHED: 09:00 18 June 2017
An average of 10 children have gone missing every month for the past three years in North Somerset, with many of them disappearing again and again.
Four under-18s from North Somerset are still registered as ‘missing’ while Avon and Somerset Constabulary is using tools like social media site Snapchat to deter young people from running away.
A Mercury freedom of information request revealed 152 under-18s went missing in 2015/16. Many children vanished repeatedly, as there were 275 missing children reports filed.
When a young person goes missing, it is not always recorded where they are found, but at least 95 under-18s who had been reported missing were found within North Somerset in 2015/16. Some 99 missing children from North Somerset were found outside of the district by police.
A police spokesman told the Mercury young people who go missing repeatedly are often within the care system, and repeat disappearances sees the child deemed as more vulnerable each time.
The force recently ran a Snapchat campaign to tackle the problem, where it spoke directly with young people.
Police interviewed a teenager from North Somerset during the Snapchat story, who had previously run away from home repeatedly.
The girl cannot be identified, but police called her Leah, who during her worst times was running away almost every day.
She said: “There were a lot of problems I was struggling to deal with in my head.”
But she said realising she could speak to her social worker, the police and her family helped her to solve her issues, and added: “(Running away) wasn’t worth it, I lost more than I gained.”
A spokesman from the force added: “We know and accept there are high numbers of repeat missing episodes from a core group of children.
“In many cases these will be people who live in a care setting and as a consequence they have a number of challenges they face in their life and sometimes their response to this is they run away.
“We try to work with the missing person and their family/carers, to reduce the risk/issues they face and in the long term reduce the number of repeat missing episodes so that they are kept safe.”
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