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Runaway Children

Volume 458: debated on Thursday 22 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what guidance is given to local authorities on children in their area who have run away or are missing from home, specifying in each case the (a) document, (b) paragraph and (c) line references; and whether each has statutory status. (128741)

[holding answer 20 March 2007]: Government issued “Children Missing from Care and Home—a guide to good practice” in tandem with the social exclusion unit’s report “Young Runaways” in 2002. This includes information for local authorities and their partner agencies on responding to children in care who go missing from their placements and to children who go missing from their homes.

Sections 1 to 7 of this guidance from pages 5 to 19 set out the issues to be considered and the processes to be followed so that local authorities respond effectively to children who go missing from their care placement. Sections 8 to 10 from pages 23 to 29 set out the issues and processes to be followed for those who run away from home.

This guidance and its related circular, LAC(2002)17, were issued under section 7 of the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970 which means that, except in exceptional circumstances, councils must follow its advice.

We are currently working with the Children’s Society to review how local authorities are meeting the needs of runaways under the Every Child Matters framework, and will consider the case for fresh guidance on runaways when that work is completed.