To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 27 June 2019 to Question 268391, if he will make an estimate of the number of looked-after children placed (a) inside and (b) outside the borough that were reported (i) missing and (ii) away without authorisation in each local authority area in each year since 2015.
The attached table shows the number of looked-after children in children’s homes who were missing or away without authorisation status, and by placement location, from 2015 to 2018, for each local authority. The figures presented in the table are higher than those presented in response to PQ 268391, as a child may have an incident that is ‘missing’ and an incident that is classified as ‘away without authorisation’ in their care history. These incidents may also vary by placement location over the same period. A child will be counted once for each variation of incident that is recorded.
The latest figures nationally on children looked after who go missing and the number of incidents are published in table G1 of the statistical release ‘Children looked after in England including adoption: 2017 to 2018’, which can be found at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/children-looked-after-in-england-including-adoption-2017-to-2018.
All figures on the overall number of children who were looked after during the year, who were missing or away from placement without authorisation, are still classified as experimental statistics. This is the fourth year these statistics have been collected in this way, and local authorities have reported some variation over recent years in how these incidents are recorded.
As experimental statistics, figures are not comparable across years. Local authority comparisons should be treated with the same degree of caution and firm conclusions cannot be drawn about local practice. Some authorities have informed the department that they do not record any incidents as ‘away without authorisation’ but instead report all incidents as ‘missing information’. We estimate that around 1 in 3 local authorities record this data in this way. We will continue to assess whether the figures are considered robust enough to be classed as national statistics, rather than experimental.