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22 May 2019 | Podcasts | Article by Alan Collins

HJ Talks about Abuse: Missing children in care

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The Guardian has reported that MPs are to launch an inquiry into the record number of children missing from care in England.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults has called for information for those who work in the area to provide their views and data as to the risks posed by children sent away for care.

In this week’s episode of the HJ Talks About Abuse podcast, Alan Collins and Sam Barker speak about the issue of missing children in care.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults seeks to raise awareness of the issues faced by children and adults who run away or go missing, as well as the families they leave behind. The APPG’s membership spans all of the main political parties in Westminster and both the Houses of Commons and Lords. It is headed by Ann Coffey.

Coffey also wants to explore how many of these children are then lured into drug gangs as part of the so-called county lines phenomenon.

The Guardian noted the following troubling data:

  • An increase of 1,000 children going missing from care homes since 2015, after being moved to new areas often miles from their homes, known as an “out of area placement”.
  • Numbers have more than doubled from 990 in 2015, to 1,990 in 2018. This compares with a 31% increase for children who go missing from homes within their own borough.
  • The government introduced measures in 2013 to reduce numbers in cross-boundary placements. But the inquiry notes that despite this 64% of all young people living in children’s homes now live out of borough, up from 46% in 2012.

These statistics are almost unbelievable and raise a number of very real questions about the appropriateness of out of area placements and the use of independent providers for care.

We discuss the legal framework behind this practice, the sordid history of out of area placements regarding the Bryn Alyn Community, whether any lessons have been learned from the Bryn Alyn scandal, whether the sending away of children is a proper discharge of the duty of care owed to children in care and whether this practice should continue.

Author bio

Alan Collins


Alan Collins is one of the best known and most experienced solicitors in the field of child abuse litigation and has acted in many high profile cases, including the Jimmy Savile and Haut de la Garenne abuse scandals.  Alan has represented interested parties before public inquiries including the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry, and IICSA (Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse).

Internationally, Alan works in Australia, South East Asia, Uganda, Kenya, and California representing clients in high profile sexual abuse cases. Alan also spoke at the Third Regional Workshop on Justice for Children in East Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok hosted by Unicef and HCCH (Hague Conference on Private International Law).

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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