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Councils failing to protect endangered kids who go missing from home or care; EXCLUSIVE: New research commissioned by Norfolk Police reveals only half of runaway kids are given "return home interviews" - despite it being a statutory requirement.

Byline: Dan Warburton

Councils are failing to protect endangered kids who go missing from home or care, a probe has found.

Only half of runaway kids are given "return home interviews" despite it being a statutory requirement.

The Children's Society charity says the interviews can be crucial in keeping them safe as fears grow that county lines drug gangs and sex grooming networks are preying on vulnerable kids fleeing home.

The charity's Sam Royston said: "The interview not only shows this young person that someone cares, it also enables safeguarding professionals to understand how best to support him or her."

The in-depth interview with an independent, trained professional aims to discover who the runaway met and where they stayed.

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Experts say this is vital in identifying predators trying to snare runaway youngsters into drug gangs and paedophile rings.

The research, commissioned by Norfolk Police, also showed many councils could not provide any data on the number of children going missing in their area.

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Children's Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: "The welfare of any child who goes missing from home or care is something we take extremely seriously.

"Guidance we give councils stresses importance of offering a return home interview for children, to help communicate concern for their welfare and give them a chance to confide in an independent person."

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Credit: Getty

'Return home interviews' are important for runaway kids because they help professionals understand how best to support them

Credit: Getty

Experts say the interviews are vital in identifying predators trying to snare runaway youngsters into drug gangs and paedophile rings

Credit: PA

Children's Minister Nadhim Zahawi is concerned by the findings

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Title Annotation:News,UK News
Publication:Daily Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 5, 2019
Words:301
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