Last chance for under 16s Runaways

October 24, 2007 2:37 PM

Mark signing the petition for better services for runaway and missing children

Local Cheadle MP, Mark Hunter last week helped launch a campaign supporting plans for a national policy for runaway youngsters under the age of 16. The national petition in the shape of a giant running shoe, signed by Mark Hunter, will be presented to Ministers later this month.

This latest initiative follows 20 years of campaigning by the English Coalition for Runaway Children, a group representing 30 charities.

At the launch, which brought together representatives from the police, local authorities, the voluntary sector and MPs, MPs heard evidence from specialists identifying the problems and danger facing children in the UK who run away from home or go missing. MPs heard concerns that current systems do not adequately protect vulnerable runaways or missing children and recommendations were made to the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families for a new focus on the issue.

The Children's Society and English Coalition for Runaway Children presented their view that a national safety net for runaway children was needed. This would include emergency accommodation, an integrated system for capturing data on runaways and return interviews for every runaway child to assess their needs.

Speaking after signing the petition Mark Hunter said: "I was pleased to be able to sign up to the demands for an improvement in the services for runaways and missing children.

The Children's Society has estimated that 100,000 children go missing each year each year in the UK, often because of problems at home. One in six end up sleeping rough on the streets, and one in twelve are hurt or harmed.

These children are extremely vulnerable, and we need to ensure that the services for runaway children are reviewed so that they can gain access to the support that they so desperately need."

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