UNDER a new scheme, children in the Dyfed-Powys area who run away from home will be given more support.
The project, which reaches Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Powys, will see the homelessness charity Llamau helping and interviewing children who have been reported missing.
Llamau provide accommodation, support and advice that is crucial in times of crisis. As Wales’ leading homelessness charity, they work with homeless and potentially homeless young people and vulnerable women across Wales. An established charity, with head offices in Cardiff, Llamau has been providing support for those who need it for over 26 years.
Commissioned by Dyfed-Powys Police, the scheme aims to identify any trends in situations that prompt young people to run away, as well as highlight any risks that can occur during their time away, and it will study the places that they go when away from their home.
The service, which will initially run until March 2018, will cost around £80,000 a year to implement.
In 2014, Dyfed-Powys Police received 1,038 missing reports for 520 children and young people under the age of 18. 344 of these were from Carmarthen and 259 from Pembrokeshire. Many of these children ran away from home more than once; 365 went missing once, 114 two to four times, and 25 five to seven times. There were sixteen young people who ran away more than seven times.
“No one is more important to us than our children,” said Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner Christopher Salmon, “I want to protect those who are at their most vulnerable.
“There are many reasons why young people flee their homes, including sexual exploitation. We’ve seen the terrible effects of neglect and official inaction in Yorkshire and Oxford. I want us to tackle the causes to make sure children here are safe from harm. I’m confident that Llamau, with their experience in helping young vulnerable people, will make a hugely positive contribution to the safety of young people across Dyfed-Powys.
“Children can talk freely – away from the police – to experts who understand their situation. The information they give will allow professionals protecting vulnerable children to make better informed decisions.”
Chief Executive of Llamau, Frances Beecher, said the charity was ‘delighted to be involved with delivering the new service’.
She commented: “Children and young people who are missing are in grave danger; it’s essential that we find out why they were missing. We can support them to understand the danger they were in, as well as hoping them resolve any issues that led to this. Their safety is our paramount concern.”