Thousands of children missing in the North East

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SHOCKING numbers of children are being reported missing from their homes in the North East.

Figures from Northumbria Police and Durham Constabulary reveal there were almost 4,000 calls from parents and carers throughout 2010 with reports of young people going missing.

Northumbria Police dealt with 3,083 reports of missing youngsters throughout the 12-month period and Durham Constabulary dealt with 774 missing person reports of a vulnerable child, indicating someone under the age of 17.

Although police insist most young people are found safe and well within hours, a regional charity which supports runaways issued a warning about young people falling prey to sexual exploitation.

Richard Haigh, project manager of Scar, Safeguarding Children At Risk, Prevention and Action, which is supported by the Children’s Society and Barnados, said children going missing are at risk of sexual abuse.

He said: “When young people end up in situations where they have been groomed or sexually exploited we find that they are almost always young people that have been going missing from home.”

The police figures show many of the young people reported missing are living in care homes and many of the young people repeatedly go missing.

Det Supt Adrian Green, of Durham Constabulary, said: “The overwhelming majority of those reported as missing return home safe and well, usually within 48 hours or less.

“But, when serious concerns are expressed for their wellbeing then additional resourses are always allocated, since their health and safety are of paramount importance.”

Of the reports Northumbria Police investigated, 42 children were under five.

A spokeman from the Northumbria force said: “Children go missing for many reasons, from wanting to stay out later than they are allowed, to being unhappy with a domestic situation or having problems at school.”

@SunEchoSchools