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Police and council join forces to stop another Rochdale
1:30pm Tuesday 2nd October 2012 in News
POLICE and council chiefs in Worcestershire are joining forces to help tackle the problem of children missing from care homes.
From now on, data on all the children’s homes in the county will be freely available to police officers in a bid to quicken the process for finding youngsters who run away.
Both parties are going to develop an ‘information sharing protocol’ on children in care so they are better prepared if they run away.
It follows concern that many youngsters who vanish can go missing for too long.
There are four registered care homes in Worcestershire run by the county council, which look after a total of 26 children at any one time.
But there are also several private centres around the county, many of which are not known to police.
Speaking before a meeting of the cabinet, councillors agreed the plan to share details with officers.
West Mercia Police will get a list of all the homes in Worcestershire and “permissible data” on all looked-after children.
Councillor Liz Eyre, the cabinet member responsible for children and young people’s social care, said: “It is a major part of the council’s responsibility to keep children safe and this cannot be done in isolation.
"Police need access to the full information they need to keep children safe. I’m very happy to recommend this.”
The Conservative cabinet agreed to accept a motion by the opposition Liberal Democrat group.
The motion follows concern key agencies in other parts of the country have not been working together tightly enough while trying to protect youngsters.
After nine men were jailed in May for grooming girls as young as 13 in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, a report last week revealed how social services and police missed opportunities to intervene.
In January 2009 the body of Jade Tyler, aged 16, was found near junction 6 of the M5 after going missing from her city home. She was seen by social workers, police and mental health experts in the run-up to her death but no blame was attached.
County councillor Fran Oborski said: “This is an excellent move. There are private children’s centres springing up and recently when two young people went missing from one in Kidderminster, there was considerable concern until they were found.
These are incredibly vulnerable children and anything we can do to help them will make a difference.”