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Lewisham's 'hugely disturbing' number of missing children in care
A "hugely disturbing" number of looked after children in Lewisham go missing for 24 hours or more, new figures have revealed.
The "scandal" of children running away from the care of the capital’s local authorities has been highlighted in a new report by London Assembly’s Lib Dem leader Caroline Pidgeon AM.
The results show the "widespread failure" to keep "vulnerable" children safe both within the local authority, or placed in foster or specialist care outside the borough between 2009 to 2014.
Last year, there were 25 incidents of children under Lewisham Council's care reported missing within Lewisham and 33 outside the borough, with a total 28 children missing for more than 24 hours.
The figures peaked in 2010 when 60 incidents of children missing were reported within Lewisham with another 47 outside the borough, and a total 53 children missing for more than 24 hours.
Lib Dem Mayoral candidate Councillor Duwayne Brooks said: "These figures are hugely disturbing.
"The results show huge numbers of young people run away from care homes provided by Lewisham Council whether it's provided in Lewisham or outside, in some cases 20 miles away, on a regular basis.
"This needs urgent attention as we know many of these young people are extremely vulnerable and tend to be at risk of serious physical abuse."
He claims children in care in Lewisham also suffer educationally with frequent low pass rates for GCSEs.
Speaking of her report Looked After Children: Missing From Care, Ms Pidgeon said: "The scandal of London’s missing looked after children is now painfully clear.
"There is a high number of recorded missing children from boroughs across every part of London.
"But even worse there is a failure of a few London boroughs to even have accessible data on record relating to the children they are legally responsible for in terms of care and legal protection."
A spokeswoman for Lewisham Council said: “The lives and support needs of children in care are by definition very complex and they present many challenging behavioural issues.
"We do everything we can to support these young people who are coping with a very difficult period of transition in their lives.
"We take every instance of a child going missing very seriously and have a very robust reporting system. For every child, we draw up a plan to address the underlying issues that trigger their missing episode and to also take steps to ensure their future safety.
"By doing this, we have seen a steady decrease in the number of missing episodes over recent years.”
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