Missing children toll is rising

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THE number of children reported missing in Greater Manchester has risen dramatically, a charity says.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Railway Children shows an increase of around 270 per cent in the number of reports of missing youngsters between 2008 and 2011.

More than 2,000 children under the age of 16 were reported missing in 2011, rising from 571 in 2008. the majority choosing to flee life at home or in care.

Although the vast majority of cases ended with their being reunited with their parents or guardians, with no reports of children still missing and only three cases remaining dormant on the books of Greater Manchester Police in 2011, the charity says it is greatly concerned about the spike in cases.

Railway Children also believes the reported cases may be just the tip of the iceberg, with figures from the Children’s Society suggesting as many as 100,000 children in the UK run away from home each year.

Railway Children’s head of strategy and policy Andy McCullough said: “It is alarming to see that the numbers of children reported missing in Greater Manchester has risen so significantly year on year.

“Children run away for many reasons, usually to escape things they find stressful such as problems at school or home.

“However, anecdotal research indicates that as many as two thirds of young people who run away from home are not even reported missing and may be too vulnerable and afraid to seek help from official services.

“There is a clear need for UK society to collectively take responsibility to tackle this issue at its cause.”