The Department for Education currently collects information on children looked after by local authorities in England who went missing from their agreed placement for a period of 24 hours or more.
The table attached shows the number of children who went missing from their agreed placement whilst looked after by Hampshire, Portsmouth or Southampton local authority, during the years ending 31 March 2012 to 2014. Children who went missing on more than one occasion during the year have been recorded only once for that year. The table also shows the number of these children who were still missing at 31 March 2014, the latest date for which data are available. In addition to these, there will also be some children who have turned 18, and therefore ceased to be looked after whilst missing. In such cases, information is not collected on whether these young people are still missing.
Comparisons with other data sources, including numbers of missing children reported to the police, indicate that the number of children missing from their agreed placement may be an undercount of the true figure and should be treated with caution. Extensive work on improving the quality of this data has been undertaken during the past two years’ data collections. An increase in the number of children missing from their agreed placement over recent years may therefore be due to improved recording rather than a true increase. From 2015, the information will be collected differently to improve the quality.