The number of missing children in Redbridge has more than doubled in the last two years, police have revealed. 

In the last financial year there were 1,219 children reported missing in the borough, and 18 of those went missing from care homes. 

This compares to 518 reports in the 12 months up to April 2012 and 788 the following year.

PC Joy Kyei, of Redbridge Police’s missing persons unit, said only four officers are employed to deal with the growing problem.

"We can't just do it by ourselves. It's about pulling outside agencies together, particularly care homes and developing relationships," she added.

Detective Chief Inspector Neil Lemon believes the increase in reports of missing children is down to a combination of factors.

He said: "There are more children in care, the borough has seen an increase in the number of homes, the awareness of risk is greater and more people are reporting it.”

In normal circumstances, a person missing under the age of 18 is categorised as 'medium' risk, but it is estimated up to 20 per cent are at 'high risk', either through child sexual exploitation, self-harming or committing or being a victim of crime.

Care homes are to be tasked with creating a separate category for unauthorised absence, which will see children dealt with as missing, with the requirement for a home to use its resources to track them down..

A spokeswoman for the council said: The Children’s Trust will continue to work closely with the police to ensure that young people and the vulnerable who are absent from care are safeguarded.

"This includes work with care providers who under the new scheme will be asked to make phone calls to friends and family, contact hospitals and make visits to known places, where this is possible."