By Dave Knapper
MORE than 1,000 children were reported missing from their homes to police in Staffordshire and
Cheshire last year.
And figures from Staffordshire Police have revealed the number of missing youngsters has increased
five fold over the past four years.
Now charities are calling for parents to address any problems with their children before they run away from home.
In 2008, officers in Staffordshire were called to 110 incidents, with that figure rising to 168 in 2009, and 253 in 2010.
The latest data shows the figure then then leapt to 537 cases in 2011.
The Staffordshire force says the children which make up the figures were all found and returned
The numbers across the Cheshire East area –which includes Crewe and Congleton – has decreased from 551 between 2009 and 2010 to 507 between April 2010 and March this year.
The Sandbach-based charity Railway Children –which supports youngsters who have found
themselves living on the streets – has revealed the figures and is hoping they will encourage the public to address issues which affect children.
Andy McCullough, head of strategy and policy at Railway Children, said: "It is alarming to see that
the numbers of children reported missing in Staffordshire has risen so significantly year on year.
"Of those who are reported missing, the majority are young people who have run away from home or care.
"Children run away for many reasons, usually to escape things they find stressful such as problems at school or home."
Mr McCullough claims the figures would be even higher if every incident was reported to the police.
He believes two-thirds of youngsters who run away
from home do so without the matter being reported.
He added: "I would urge all parents to talk to each other and their children about running away from
home, to raise awareness of this alarming issue and its realities."
A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said the force receives roughly 4,000 reports of missing people every year.
He said: "The force treats the safety of children extremely seriously and works more closely than ever with partners to protect vulnerable people.
"The increase in missing people reports is largely due to improvements in recording procedures, together with the multi-agency approach to
The police also signed an agreement with charity Missing People earlier this year to provide a support package to families and individuals.