Those of you with children aged 16 to 17 know how much support young people need as they grow up.
For young people in care, this can be an intensely difficult period. They struggle to cope without good family support.
I recently chaired an inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults into the dangers faced by children who go missing from care when sent to live miles away from home.
The inquiry shone a light on an area which is causing deep concern – the increasing numbers of young people aged 16 and 17 who are living in unregulated, uninspected semi-independent accommodation.
This is a murky, twilight world which is off the radar.
They can become magnets for paedophiles and County Lines drugs gangs who prey on them because they are considered the easiest targets.
More than 5,000 looked after children are living in this shady world. In addition, many other young people, who are homeless, as a result of family break up, live in this unregulated accommodation. They are not classed as ‘looked-after’ and so no figures are kept on how many there are.
This accommodation is not inspected by Ofsted but it should be because many of these young people are very disadvantaged with few resources.
In law they are still children, the vulnerability of their age is recognised.
We wouldn’t find it acceptable to have our 16 and 17 year olds living in accommodation miles away from home with no care being provided but this is what is happening to young people in our care.
Our inquiry recommended that semi-independent accommodation should be regulated and inspected. The time for warm words from government is over. Our young people need action.
Local councils are unwittingly acting as ‘recruiting sergeants’ for County Lines drugs gangs by sending vulnerable children to live miles away from home, according to a parliamentary inquiry out today.
Evidence submitted to the inquiry suggests thousands of children are being put at risk by being moved to children’s homes up to 100 miles from where they live.
This “sent away generation” become magnets for paedophiles and ‘County Lines’ gangs as they are isolated from friends, family and social workers, says the report ‘No Place at Home’ by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults into children missing from out of area placements.
More than 70 per cent of the 41 police forces that responded to the inquiry said that placing children out of area increased their risk of exploitation often resulting in them being coerced into going missing.