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Redbridge children’s homes have claimed they sometimes gave up trying to report missing kids due to difficulties reaching police.
Around 50 children went missing from care in the borough in 2018/19, according to a Redbridge Children’s Safeguarding Board (RCSB) report presented to the people scrutiny committee on February 4.
While many went missing trying to return to family or friends, 34 were “being exposed to gangs and groomed for sexual or criminal exploitation”.
However, children’s homes and care providers experienced such “long delays” getting through to 101 that it led “on some occasions” to them giving up trying to report, meaning the real figure could be higher.
The Metropolitan Police have introduced a new way to report missing people online, which may make it easier for providers to inform police.
Information from the Missing Children’s Team shows at least 11 of the Redbridge residents missing from care “have been involved in county lines activities”.
However, more than two thirds of the young people cared for in the borough that year were placed there by another local authority, sometimes in “unregulated semi-independent settings”.
In 2018/19, more than 500 young people cared for in Redbridge were from other areas, compared to less than 250 under the care of Redbridge Council.
Young people from outside the borough went missing from care almost 2,000 times, creating additional work for local police.