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Out-of area placements increase the risk of children being abused

Further to the blog I wrote in July 2012, regarding the government’s plans to protect children in care homes, official figures revealed last week have shown that almost two thirds of youngsters taken into care are sent to homes outside their borough, despite warnings from the police and children’s charities that this places them in greater danger.

Out of 10,390 children looked after by London boroughs last year, only 3,870 went to homes within the authority’s boundaries; almost a fifth were sent more than 20 miles away from their home borough. Kent County Council protested that more than 20 homes in the Thanet area were caring exclusively for children from outside the county, with some coming from as far away as Wales and Scotland.

Enver Solomon, director of policy at the Children’s Society, highlighted that “these are often children who have suffered neglect and abuse and if they are placed a long way from home they are more likely to run away and get into risky situations on the street, being preyed on by dangerous individuals”.

In July 2012 the government set up a working group to consider, amongst other issues, why some local authorities send children to homes outside of their own borough. It is hoped that the findings of the working group would lead to steps being taken to ensure that local authorities can place children in care in their own boroughs. Labour MP Ann Coffey, chairwoman of the all-party parliamentary group for Runaway and Missing Children, has warned that “failure to take action will lead to more horrific Rochdale cases”.

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