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Police reveal “shocking” fact they search for SIX missing children a day in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 08:14 19 March 2017 | UPDATED: 08:15 19 March 2017

Suffolk police. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Suffolk police. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

In just a single year, police had to look for 2,338 missing children in Suffolk in what the county’s police commissioner called “every parent’s worst nightmare”.

Tim Passmore, Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore, Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner

New data reveals between December 2015 and December 2016 police received 2,338 reports of a missing child in the county, with one child going missing 79 times in just 12 months.

Tim Passmore, Suffolk police and crime commissioner, said: “The children that are going missing are potentially very vulnerable, and their safety is of course the first concern of the police.

“It does involve a considerable amount of police time and resources. We need to be looking at prevention and why these children are going missing.”

The statistics are mentioned in an agenda prepared for Suffolk County Council’s police and crime panel on Friday, March 17.

The report goes on to say several of these are due to a small number of children who can go missing more than 50 times per year.

Mr Passmore said while the police will always continue to treat every missing child case with the same care and urgency, other organisations and the police need to look at working together to reduce the problem.

According to the report, during the period covered by the figures, one young person went missing a total of 79 times and 16 children and young people were reported missing between 23 and 56 times.

The majority of children – 770 – were reported as missing only once.

Mr Passmore said police, social care, health services, the schools, parents and the wider community all had a role to play in seeing numbers reduce.

“It is a parent’s worst nightmare,” he said. “There are many issues such domestic abuse in the home and a troubled homelife that could make a child feel their only option is to run away. We need to work together to look at what can be done differently.”

Haverhill county councillor John Burns sits on the panel and said it was important different organisations worked together to get to the root cause of why the children were going missing.

He said work to find them must take up a significant amount of police time.

“Although it’s large, the number of people who are absconding, if that’s the right term to use, is relatively small. It’s just some do it a lot of times,” he said.

Mr Burns added: “I think that the problem is that the police are the people who end up carrying the can for all of this.

“Police are quite rightly looking for the missing children but are they getting lot of support from the other authorities?”

The report did not say whether this was an increase on last year or how it compared with neighbouring counties.

Mr Burns said police officers must get frustrated that children known to wander off and go missing were being allowed to do so repeatedly, whether that was from a children’s home, a foster home or a family.

“Any officers must get frustrated with kids who disappear 20 or 30 times,” said Mr Burns. “They probably feel for them but at the end of the day they must get frustrated with the fact these kids are allowed to wander off.”

The meeting takes place at West Suffolk House in Bury St Edmunds at 10.30am.

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