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22 August 2011, 06:00
Runaway children are causing a massive headache for police who say they are getting bogged down with the work of trying to locate them.
Hertfordshire Police say they know of one case of a teenager who has been missing more than 40 times.
A 12-year-old boy from Watford who went to London to riot on Tuesday, is one of the rising number of people reported missing in south west Hertfordshire.
Detective Inspector Justine Jenkins is from The Harm Reduction Unit in Watford which deals with - among other things - missing people, as well as domestic violence and hate-crime.
She's been telling Heart: "We do have people with vulnerabilities, we have a 72 year old man with Alzheimer’s who is missing, and those are the ones we need to concentrate on finding, not the children that are just coming in late or not letting their parents know where they are.
DI Jenkins added: "There are ones that go missing constantly. We find them, we take them home, and then within an hour they've gone out again and we're back to square one and have to start the address checks again. It's just a constant battle."
Its officers are becoming increasingly tied up with finding teenagers, aged under 17-years-old, who have simply "not bothered" to tell their parents where they are.
As a result, they are unable to focus their attention on "priority cases" - people who may harm themselves, or someone else.