Thursday, February 9, 2023

Thurrock Council: Shocking report reveals close to 700 incidents of children reported missing under council’s care

Thurrock Council Offices

By Local Democracy Reporter
Steve Shaw

THERE has been almost 700 recorded cases of children going missing while under the care of Thurrock Council in the past 12 months, a new report has revealed.

The 670 missing incidents, which are recorded when a child is found to not be at the place they are expected to be for any length of time, represents a major increase from the 291 incidents the previous year.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service asked the council to explain the reasons behind the increase and what is being done to address it but did not receive a response, despite giving them four days to respond.

The data was revealed in a report published ahead of a Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on Tuesday night. It shows that the highest number of incidents occurred in June 2018 when there was 88 incidents, August 2018 also saw 74 incidents.

The report does not provide detail on how many children were involved in the incidents or how long they were missing for.

Figures also show that there has been no significant increase in the number of children being looked after by the authority.

Paul Joseph, head of helplines for the nationwide charity Missing People, said: “We would always consider any situation of a young person going missing as very worrying – regardless of what type of home setting they have.

“The risks they face, particularly around child sexual exploitation or gang involvement, combined with their age, makes them vulnerable.

“We would hope any local authority would do their best to prevent young people in their care from going missing, and ensure that when they do that care is taken to look at the reason why they left and give them the right support to avoid going missing again.”

An NSPCC spokesman for the East of England said: “It is concerning when any child goes missing from care as we know they can be extremely vulnerable to grooming and exploitation.

“Many looked-after children will have been abused before being placed in care and need a great deal of attention and protection. It’s therefore crucial that they have a caring and safe living environment with access to support.”

They added that any young people in a vulnerable position can talk confidentially to trained childline counsellors by calling 0800 1111 free of charge or via the one-to-one chat service at www.childline.org.uk.

Referrals on the rise

The number of children being referred to Thurrock’s children’s services department is on the rise, with more than a 30 per cent increase in the past 12 months.

The council’s performance report shows that on average there were 177 referrals during 2017-18 but 234 referrals in 2018-19. The borough’s information sharing group for safeguarding children, known as the Multi-agency Safeguarding Hub, also had 7,074 “contacts” up from 5,764 the previous year.

However, there were some improvements with the number of children requiring a protection plan – laying out how they can be kept safe – reducing from 271 in April 2018 to 162 in March 2019.

Details of the added pressures have been revealed just a week after the director of children’s services retired and the council’s management team appointed Roger Harris as the interim director – despite him already being corporate director of adults, housing and health.

The management team forced the change through after elected councillors voted against it over concerns that it meant reducing a role vital in protecting vulnerable children into essentially a part-time job.

At a council meeting when the change was discussed, the leader of the Labour group Jane Pothecary said: “I do not believe that placing responsibility for children’s social care, health, education, adult social care and housing on to one person’s shoulders is a responsible way to protect children, vulnerable adults or the homeless in this borough.”

14 COMMENTS

  1. This is shocking news and just more proof that the Tories are losing control of the day-to-day business of the council. At the national level the Tories have starved local authorities of the funding they need to effectively maintain and improve services and that the local level the Tories haven’t given effective oversight of the services they can provide given the funding issues. Vulnerable children and adults are being left short-changed by having all the services for both groups overseen by a single person meaning that there will be more disgusting headlines like this one. It’s time to oust the Tories at national and local levels and get a Labour Government that will properly fund these vital services and create a country that is worth being a citizen of. The Tories have done nothing but bring shame on the UK.

  2. God help us all if we ever have a Labour Government again. Still that looks unlikely thank God with muppet Corbyn at the helm.

  3. Thats not just almost 700 recorded cases of children going missing.

    It is while under the care of Thurrock Council which is even worse because its not the population of children in Thurrock its just the ones under care.

    Shocking.

  4. Catching the Bus – Absolutely. 700 vulnerable children let down by the Tories who can’t blame Labour because it’s happened under the Thurrock Tories’ watch which is also under a Tory ‘government’ that’s been in power for nine years at a time that austerity has supposed to have ended yet they continue to cut funding for public services. Of course, the facts don’t matter to Tory apologists who blame Labour for everything that isn’t under their control (because they’re not in power) and attack them every chance they get with a Glyn-t in their eye.

  5. Whilst I agree this council administration is one of the worse the borough has ever had, the issue here is more a case of how many children in care.
    Vicky Pollard mothers, drug dealing fathers all contribute to a lowly class of people in the area who clearly have no desire to be a good parent.
    Trouble is the burden lands on us workers.

  6. It’s simple.

    Jail the people not doing there job at the council.

    They set the Laws, They set the education they set the environment.
    National level as well.

    You either improve people and your lot in life.

    Or you have no hope and society (Which there is no such thing as anymore)
    and have anarchy.

    Make Thurrock Great Again.

  7. What this news story fails to mention is this part of the report:-

    ‘All of these children were missing for short periods and have returned to their placements.’

  8. We need to improve the area so people move up the economic scale.

    Back in 1960 UK was the 2nd largest economy by 1990 we were down at 6th now India is set to overtake us this year.
    Thats 2 former colonies.

    We need to stop the race to the bottom and gig economy which jobs now only last 4.5years on average and create high skilled long term jobs and businesses and embrace the new industries of the future.

    We need to stop the self Defeatism.

    And create solutions to solve ever growing problems. Like the Climate, Social, Economic.

    Thurrock could take the lead in this and roll it out Nationally then Europe, North America, Rest of World.
    We could export Biotech, Renewables,
    Construction Tech, MedicalTech. AI Tech.
    Be a research science Tech hub.

    Which in turn would pay for local services.

    This is very constructive.

  9. Thats a good point ED. I dont know why this was not included in Steve Shaw’s article.
    It would be useful to know.

  10. True the media is a shocker thats for sure for headlines. Millie knows all about that.

    They still need to deal with the rise though. As its a waste of staff time. and cannot continue.

    It is good to know they came back after a short period. I am glad about that.

  11. Ed – You have a valid point but you also miss an equally valid point yourself. It doesn’t matter how long the children were missing for, if the council is responsible for looking after them, they shouldn’t be “missing for short periods” at all. If the children are vulnerable enough to be under local authority care they should be monitored more closely so they don’t go missing which leaves them even more vulnerable.

    Of course, it all depends on what is considered a “short time” – hours, days – and where the children were during the time they were missing.

    Yes, journalists should be more careful with knee jerk headlines but journalists today aren’t really journalists, they are entertainers so why expect a local news outlet to show anymore journalistic ethics than any other? It’s not like you have to go too far to see a lack of journalistic ethics.

  12. Yeah all valid points by people.

    For me its the fact they doublled and been recorded which means it costs money thus increases bills.
    You want the figure going down. Not up.

  13. Catching the Bus – Well if the Tories in Westminister hadn’t cut local authority funding, the council might be able to afford to do a better job (even with the Tories in control locally).

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