'Extenuating circumstances' around missing children in care (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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'Extenuating circumstances' around missing children in Waltham Forest Council's care
The circumstances surrounding the disappearance of five young people in care make the role of Waltham Forest Council "difficult and challenging", according to the authority.
A report released by the London Assembly Liberal Democrat Group revealed that the borough has the joint highest number of children missing from care in London.
Caroline Pidgeon, who was behind the report, said the figures revealed a city-wide scandal, although a third of councils refused to respond to the Freedom of Information Act request.
A spokesman for the council said: “Waltham Forest Council takes extremely seriously the well-being of the children and young people in its care and is committed to ensuring their safety at all times.
“One missing child is one too many, but at the same time this report – which by its own admission only paints a limited picture of the problem across London given that a third of boroughs did not respond – fails to provide any context around the five missing children and young people in Waltham Forest that were reported as a snapshot on the particular day in question.
“Two of these children are suspected to have travelled to Pakistan with their father and the other three are all young people (17, 18 and 19) that have previously sought asylum before going missing.”
He added that it is the view of Waltham Forest council officers that these are "extenuating circumstances".
“Both sets of circumstances do not make the safety of these individuals any less important, but do point to some of the extenuating circumstances that both influence their actions and make the role of the local authority difficult and challenging,” He said.
The council has also denied it has only been recording the number of missing children since 2010.
The spokesman said the time it would take to provide the information meant the authority was not required to meet the request.
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