MP leads inquiry into run away youngsters

Coun Craig Whittaker.
Coun Craig Whittaker.
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CALDER Valley MP Craig Whittaker is leading a Parliamentary inquiry into children who go missing or run away from care.

He will gather evidence as part of a joint All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG) Inquiry examining how such children are supported locally and nationally.

Research by The Children’s Society reveals that a quarter of the 100,000 children who run away from care or home each year have been the victims of significant harm or abuse.

Mr Whittaker said they are also three times more likely to run away than other children, so developing a better understanding of, and response to these children, is critically important to improving their lives.

“Children who run away or go missing place themselves in real danger. Far too often we fail these children, leaving them to face great risks of serious harm and abuse alone.

“This is simply unacceptable. They must be given a greater level of care and support.”

“This inquiry aims to make a real impact on the lives of thousands of often very vulnerable children who run away from care every year.”

The inquiry, by the APPG for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults and the APPG for Looked After Children and Care Leavers, will look at issues around children in care who are placed away from their local authority, data collection and information sharing, police responses and the role of inspection and assessment.

A report of the inquiry findings is set to be published in June.

Mr Whittaker was formerly Calderdale Council’s cabinet member with special responsibility for children and young people’s services.

In October 2009 he commissioned a report about the standard of services and said standards needed improving quickly.

He was criticised for not acting quicker when the report came out in February 2010 but denied he had control of the failing department.

An official Notice to Improve is still in place.