COMMUNICATIONS NEWS: Local councils are 'failing' in the duty to young runaways

Local authorities are putting young runaways at risk by failing to implement government guidelines drawn up last year to provide help for young people on the streets, according to The Children's Society.

The charity is launching its Safe & Sound lobbying campaign to draw attention to the "worrying gaps" in support services for young runaways provided by local councils. It is calling for a national network of emergency accommodation.

A survey of local authorities revealed that only half of those questioned have any policies in place to protect child runaways. This is despite the Social Exclusion Unit's report in 2002 that recommended local authorities provide assistance and support for the 100,000 children who run away from home or care facilities and end up on the streets each year.

The charity is now offering assistance to those councils that have not yet put policies in place.

"For many children who are frightened and running away from home, it is pot luck whether they are left to fend for themselves, or get the help they need to stay safe," said Bob Reitemeier, chief executive at The Children's Society.

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