Haringey Council and its safeguarding partners are identifying “hotspots” where children go missing and individuals who may target young people for sexual exploitation.

Working with the police on these measures can lead to prosecutions, according to a report presented to the children and young people’s scrutiny panel on Thursday, September 23.

The council also interviews children when they return home to find out why they went missing, which can help address the issues that led them to run away.

Updating councillors at the scrutiny panel, Pauline Morris, the council’s head of safeguarding, set out some of the measures being taken to stop children from going missing.

Ms Morris said: “Partners can identify hotspot areas... we do that, and then we look at disruption activities to try and mitigate future exploitation and missing episodes. The collaboration of the partnership is key and sometimes leads to prosecutions.”

She said all children were offered a return-home interview but not all participate, and parents sometimes decline on their children’s behalf.

Ms Morris added that information gained from these interviews allows authorities to put a plan in place to mitigate “potential future missing episodes”. This can involve referral to mental health services, if necessary.

Further work includes the development of an app designed to allow young people to report missing episodes and reasons why they had run away.  The council and its partners are also looking to increase the use of wider family networks to support children who go missing, Pauline explained.

The report reveals that over the twelve months to March, there were 806 missing episodes involving 190 children. Of these, 82 were looked-after children who were the responsibility of Haringey and 18 were the responsibility of other local authorities but placed in Haringey. The remaining 90 were children missing from their family homes.

Children from black African, Caribbean and British backgrounds formed the largest group of missing children, at 54 per cent, the report adds. The figure for white children was 19 per cent, while mixed was 17 per cent and Asian 6 per cent. The majority of young people reported missing – 56 per cent – were male, according to the report.

The council and its partners updated and relaunched a protocol highlighting how they prevent and respond to children and young people at risk of going missing from home or care in July this year.