Warning Over Greater Manchester Runaways

29 October 2014, 12:01 | Updated: 29 October 2014, 14:33

Figures from Greater Manchester Police show 3,242 under-18s went missing between January and September 17 2014.

The details are part of a wider report, due to be published tomorrow looking at child sexual exploitation in Greater Manchester. It's been put together by Stockport MP Ann Coffey and was commissioned by by Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd following a series of child sex scandals in the area, often involving gangs of Asian men grooming vulnerable white girls.

The details released today show there was a total of 9,789 reports in the first nine months of this year. Of those, 539 were children looked after by the local authority, generating 4,520 reports - almost half of all incidents.

It reveals the scale of youngsters at risk from sex grooming gangs and states that children are in danger of ``falling off the radar'' because of poor communications between children's homes, local councils and police

One in five children and young people who go missing from home or care is at risk of serious harm, with ``major concerns'' about the links between children running away and the risks of child sexual exploitation, it said.

Since January 17 this year, changes to the Children's Homes Regulations 2001 mean that children's homes which accept young people from outside their borough are required to notify the local authority that a child has been admitted to or discharged from their home.

But the report said this is not happening.

A local authority in the Midlands, which the report did not identify, recently placed seven children, all assessed as at high risk of sexual exploitation, into two private children's homes in Stockport.

But the Stockport children's homes did not inform the local authority or the police. The first instance of them coming to notice was when they went missing shortly after they arrived in Stockport and the police were called.

When the police attended to take a Missing From Home Report , the home staff were not able to provide any information of value to assist, as the placing authority had not provided the home with the required information.

A local authority from London and one from Wales have also placed children into Stockport children's homes recently with similar issues, and again the local council and police were not notified.

The report states this is a ``flagrant breach'' of the new government guidance and means very vulnerable children are ``falling off the radar''.

The police are still concerned that, where there is a risk of child sexual exploitation, information is not always shared with them by children's homes where the youngster resides.

The report recommends ``spot checks'' on children's homes to see if they are adhering to the new government guidance.

The full report will be published tomorrow.