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BASW: Police have to share responsibility for missing young people

Following Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Sir Peter Fahy’s comments on whether police officers were the best professionals to deal with young people who repeatedly go missing, BASW England Manager Maris Stratulis is insistent the responsibility must be shared between agencies.

Speaking to the BBC, BASW England Manager Maris Stratulis said: “It's not good enough to be saying this is not a priority, the police have got to take responsibility along with other agencies."

Adding to her interview, Ms Stratulis said: “Young people run away for a variety of complex reasons and are some of the most vulnerable people in our society. They are at risk of sexual exploitation, violence and abuse and often have no access to financial support. This all has a direct impact on their mental and physical wellbeing.

“Children in care desperately need therapeutic services and this is a big part of the issue, particularly in regard to cuts to support services such as CAMHS (Child and adolescent mental health services).

“Young people who repeatedly abscond may well be being sexually exploited. It is interesting Sir Peter’s comments come in the same week Barnardos has been awarded £3m to tackle child sexual exploitation in Rotherham. Ann Coffey’s report, Real Voices - Child Sexual Exploitation in Greater Manchester, is highly significant and its recommendations should be implemented.

“Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) are also key in making decisions about addressing child sexual exploitation and young people going missing. Local intelligence and a localised plan is essential.

“This is a national and political issue that needs to also be addressed by central government in terms of providing the appropriate resources to support these young people. No agency should abdicate its responsibility from safeguarding these vulnerable young people when faced with resource issues; children are our most precious asset.”