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New initiative to cut number of runaways

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A NEW drive to cut the number of children and young people who run away from home or care is to be rolled out in the coming months.

The Jersey Youth Service will soon begin 'return home interviews' with runaways who, experts say, are at an increased risk of falling victim to child sexual exploitation. Statistics in the UK show that 40 per cent of children who experienced sexual exploitation were reported missing from home or care at least once.

Statistics released to the JEP in 2016 showed that missing children cases reported to the police had surged by 89 per cent between January and June last year. In that time officers worked on 245 separate cases.

Sarah Walker, the Youth Service's missing from home and child sexual exploitation lead, said under the new initiative youth workers, for the first time, will engage with young people who are returned home to try to build a picture of their circumstances. The information will then be fed back to other agencies via the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub.

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