HC Deb 11 December 2000 vol 359 cc61-2W
Mr. Ruane

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many children have been reported as missing in each of the last 20 years. [141678]

Mr. Charles Clarke

Figures are not available to confirm the precise numbers of children reported missing each year since this information is not routinely collected in many forces. However, indications of the total number of children reported missing are available from a number of separate research studies, and estimates can be made on this basis. One study, published in 1992, estimated that 43,000 persons under the age of 18 were reported missing in England and Scotland in 1990. This would equate to a total number of missing children 'incidents' of 102,000, since some missing children disappear on more than one occasion. Repeat missing children is a significant problem. The vast majority of missing children reported to the police return home safely within 24 hours.

On-going Home Office research indicates that between 65 and 80 per cent. of all missing persons reported to the police will involve individuals under the age of 18. This would suggest that in 1999, there were between 150,000 and 190,000 cases of reported disappearances of children throughout the United Kingdom.