11 comments on “Missing Who …?

  1. Whilst I agree that, from experience as an SC, kids in foster homes can cause quite a nuisance for misper reports I feel that this blog only fans the flames that kids in care don’t belong in society. Not every single one of us caused trouble like this, and the ones that did tend to be the ones that did before they went into care and that can be 80% of the reason they were put there, because their parents were either too busy getting pissed up or taking drugs that they were too inept to sit down with their child and talk about why they feel the need and also explain why they shouldn’t do it. Slightly disappointed by the picture painted here I’m afraid

    • Stephen, you make a very good and valid point. I apologise if this offends you or any of the other kids who have gone through the care system and come out smiling.
      The intention of this article was to highlight the inadequecies of the ‘system’ in failing the kids who are in need; the inability of the now private ‘care’ companies who are in reality anything but that. For the most part, the placements kids with issues are put in are totally inappropriate for their needs but neither the relevant Social Services dept or responsible Authority wishes to acknowledge this …. and generally we are left to pick up the pieces.
      The Care Staff hide behind a myriad of reasons why they are unable to do their job and why, as soon as little Jimmy runs out the front door (which they refuse to lock ‘cos Ofsted says they can’t – although not one of them has ever been able to show me this rule anywhere on paper) and call us to do their job for them.
      We have now taken to submitting Child Neglect Reports in some cases, citing the carers as suspects – although some might consider ‘drastic’ it certainly seems to be forcing peoples hands into doing ‘the right thing’ and means those who should have done something to intervene a long time ago are now forced to do so – if only because there is now evidence down in black and white, and if it all went wrong we have an audit trail pointing right back at them !!!
      I did a bit of a statistics check prior to writing this article and wasn’t surprised however to find that calls to absconded care home kids were the second highest type of incident we attend – after domestics. Higher than thefts and assaults; higher than public order. It is a massive, massive drain on our scarce resources to be doing a job that for the most part, is, or at least should be, dealt with by Social Services or the Local Authority.

      • I completely agree with you. When I was an SC we had ‘regulars’ on our patch that would run off or not be back by their curfew time on a daily basis. Whenever control said those fatal ‘any AL unit available to respond to a misper at such and such home’ there’d be a unanimous ‘for f*cks sake not again’ and it would require, generally, two units to go and hunt the little blighters down. What I intended with my original post was merely to set the record straight in that for every ‘regular’ misper there are thousands that are just as pissed off at the system that knife by the rules set out and try and steer away from trouble. I just hope that further readers of this blog read it with an open mind and realise that the kids causing this trouble are very much a minority. You have indeed hit the nail on the head with what you’re saying because these kids have been let down by the system that was suppose to be put in place to protect them and the vast majority of this minority are just ‘acting up’ but having said that there exists a minority within the minority that exist purely to cause trouble and bein these kids that are at a very low point in their lives down. Out of the statistics that exist showing the amount of mispers received it would be interesting to see what percentage of them were abused by their parents and other relatives and in addition how many we’re forcibly removed by social services and the police (undoubtly for their own good but that’s not necessarily how they see it unfortunately).

        Now to set another record straight Mr Chaos, you didn’t offend me, you were writing about a subject that effects every single police officer for a very large portion of their career

  2. There is very little appetite to open a meaningful discussion on what “Care and Control” means. Kids I’ve worked with have deteriorated in the care system with multiple placements and changes in key workers featuring heavily.
    A good job can be done, but it costs and the terms of reference need clarifying to the benefit of all concerned.

  3. Interesting discussion, although I too am disappointed at the, possibly inadvertent, impression given that these children are little more than a thoroughgoing nuisance. Repeat episodes of adolescents going missing are one of the strongest indicators of risk and often (although not always) indicate a vulnerability to or an actual involvement in sexual exploitation. Of course that’s the last thing they’ll talk to the OB about. We have a responsibility to take all these calls seriously and to investigate them thoroughly because these children are quite likely to be victims of serious crime, even if they don’t realise it themselves.

  4. they are trialing a new system in one of our area, the care home rings up incident created as a absent without leave, log is delayed i think 6 hours and if they do not rtn officers attn to take the mfh report, fingers crossed they roll this out for all area, i hate nights when at about 2220hrs u get stacks of mfh jobs followed by all the mfh address checks, esp on friday when everyone is in the town centre

  5. I too was a bit disappointed with the tone of this blog – which felt like care home kids are a blight on society. However I do see where you are coming from and having read your other blogs I think it was the wording rather than the sentiment that I am cringing at. Yesterday you wrote about domestic abuse. Todays subject and yesterdays are so closely linked you wouldn’t believe. Many of these children are from homes (term used vaguely) where abuse is rife. The link between child physical abuse and domestic violence is high, estimates range 30% to 66% depending upon the study (Hester et al, 2000; Edleson, 1999; Humphreys & Thiara, 2002) . I do think we need a change of culture and not least within Social Services that these kids actually need help not labeling. Many of them are lost but present as angry, violent etc etc (actually show me any teen who isn’t angry…). I think particularly telling is the attitude of the the agencies in Rochdale, with the young women groomed for prostitution. Social workers saw them as promiscuous. Judging them and therefore missing the signs that help was needed. Back to your point, I agree its not for the Police wholly but they do have a part to play in attitudes and behaviours shows to these kids. We’ve started to turn it around with Domestics, lets do the same with care home kids.

  6. I reposted the direct links to this blog because I thought it was time to re-visit the debate again … a debate which does need to happen !

    When the initial comments were posted, I looked again at what I’d written, and whereas my intentions were to highlight the major failings in ‘the system’ rather than jibe at the kids themselves, I can see how I could have worded things better.

    That then left me with a quandary. Do I amend the article to make it more aligned with my initial intention, which would then have detracted from the subsequent commentators posts, possibly to the extent that they would then have been irrelevant to the conversation, or leave things as they were, and keep the context so that others could contribute.

    I chose the latter and believe that was the best choice to make, knowing that there are many others out there who will have different, meaningful and purposeful contributions to make .

    My argument still stands though – the companies, and lets be very clear about this, most provision for children in care now is operated by private, profit making companies, where the actual concern for the child appears increasingly to be far down the list of priorities, and certainly way below the dividend in the shareholders pocket !

    Local authorities (and therefore you and I as taxpayers) are paying literally thousands of pounds A WEEK to private companies to ‘care’ for children who for whatever reason, can no longer remain in their home environment, and are then paying many thousands of pounds a week more for police officers to go and do the job that these private companies have been contracted to do in the first place.

    To echo my point, let me provide you with two shining examples of what your average shift officer has had to deal with very recently when responding to ‘missing from care’ reports called in by the alleged ‘responsible carer’ :

    Report that ‘all four kids’ have left the site. We arrive and there are SIX members of staff sat in the lounge of the home watching TV. “How long have they been gone ?” I ask. “Not long” is the reply “they were all outside having a fag and they’ve gone off”.

    “Who’s out looking for them then ?” Simple question you may think, but with the inevitable answer “No-one, we’re not allowed to all leave the site”. “But there’s six of you here, why aren’t some of you looking ?”. And this is where it really starts going downhill. “Company says we can only look for the kids at night if there’s two staff for each child”. “Well why don’t two of you stay here and the other four go looking ?” “We need eight people to look for four children we haven’t got the staff”. “So the four of you go and look for two of them then”. “They’re all together so we cant do anything if we find them”.

    I’m sure there’s no need for me to relay the rest of the conversation because it carried on in the same vein to the point where the staff later made a complaint about us for telling them to do their job, which oddly enough was quickly rebuked by our Duty Inspector who himself, fired off the biggest tirade of complaint to the local Social Services and Ofsted I’ve seen in a long time.

    In the second instance, the following night, another care staff member at another decided to call police as their one and only charge was stood at the bottom of the home driveway, talking to her mates and wouldn’t come in when asked. She was in full view of the home; indeed very probably within the curtilage of the property’s boundary, but when the said staff member was told by the Police Control Room that we wouldn’t be attending as the child was clearly neither ‘missing’ nor ‘absconding’, immediately the care staff rang back to make a complaint as apparently ‘company rules state they are not allowed to leave the building alone after dark’ – apparently not even to walk down the driveway !

    Is the answer not to take all such responsibility away from private enterprise and they continually show that they are not worthy of the trust placed in them, and if not to be brought back under the wing of local authorities, then at least contract and fund established childrens’ welfare charities such as NSPCC and Dr Barnardo’s to take over the mantle.

  7. As a parent of a child in care (LAC) as i put him there when he went off the rails, i got multiple calls from the care homes(s) telling he was missing, i would ask how can he be missing when you have spoken to him and so have I, but because he was not at my registered address and wouldn’t pass on the info of where he was as he didn’t want to tell them after all he was over 16, then when I would speak to the workers one didn’t even speak English and she was his key worker, My mum was a social worker for 40 years she was old school (originally worked in a kids remand home) “talk to the kids” she knew the story of them all, they would wait for her to come on night shift etc., yes there were some that couldn’t or wouldn’t be helped, and then there were some like my son who had gone off the rails after seeing DV. Kids are toads, of that i have no qualms anno my son is, but i have a good relationship with him although he don’t listen lol, “yes mum, no mum” etc, You can see this problem from all angles, the biggest problem I had was no consistency and then certain social workers wouldnt listen. Some of the kids i feel sorry for and some i could cheerfully hang by their toes outta window lol. And to answer a previous point, don’t always blame the parents, my daughter totally different, good at school and now looking for college to train as a police officer

  8. To add a bit I forgot, the only place that helped my son as a private one, as they had a vested interest in the kids, this could just be my opinion, the local care ones seemed to pass the buck wherever they could, there is good and bad in private and council run, I as many others will have seen both sides. I’ve also seen the side of the abuse that the “council run” care homes take and the injuries received by my mum for kids that needed a little more than a care home, but hey “you can’t lock kids up” and most kids know the law re children better than the staff do. This problem will just go round and round, social workers have a list of rules which some adhere to no matter what, ring the police put it in their hands and some use initiative then get into trouble for not following a silly protocol, The police have more to do that pick up kids that don’t want to be there, and will abscond the minute the officers leave. I am going to stop now, or I will still be typing tonight lol.

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