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Missing Persons

Volume 699: debated on Monday 18 February 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When the review of missing from home and care guidance will be completed; and whether they will speed up this process. [HL1779]

As part of our programme of work to deliver the provisions that we set out in our Children and Young Persons Bill, along with the wider measures proposed in the Care Matters White Paper, we will be revising and rewriting all extant Children Act guidance concerning local authority responsibilities for looked-after children. This process will involve revision of our 2002 guidance Children Missing from Care and HomeA Guide to Good Practice. As part of this revision, we are planning to include more information about safeguarding vulnerable groups such as potentially trafficked children.

The Care Matters White Paper implementation plan will be published shortly and will include information about the timetable for revising the Children Act guidance. The cross-government working group for young runaways which was launched in January will also contribute to the review of the missing from home and care guidance, with a particular focus on supporting local areas to deliver effective services for young people who run away from home or care.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether there have been any developments in the cases of those children who disappeared whilst in the care of social services and are thought to have been trafficked, since the Home Office report published on 11 June 2007; and whether they have instigated any new preventive measures. [HL1780]

Information about outcomes of individual children is not collected centrally. If a looked-after child, who may have been trafficked, goes missing from their care placement, then the local authority responsible for the child's care and the provider of the care placement must follow the arrangements agreed with the police for managing missing from care incidents.

Government take this issue very seriously. In December 2007 my department and the Home Office published practice guidance on safeguarding children from trafficking, Working Together to Safeguard ChildrenSafeguarding Children Who May Have Been Trafficked. This guidance document is intended to help agencies and their staff to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who may have been trafficked. It is supplementary to, and should be used in conjunction with, the Government's statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children (2006).

In January this year, the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA) published its plans on how it intends to improve outcomes for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC), including those that are suspected to have been trafficked. The plans include safe arrangements for trafficked children who claim asylum and later go missing from local authority care. On the same day BIA published its code of practice for keeping children safe from harm. The code also emphasises the need to identify trafficked children at risk of going missing and the appropriate action to safeguard them.