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Runaway Children in Cornwall At Risk Of Sex Abuse

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9:39am 24th April 2013

There is a warning runaway children in Cornwall are at risk of sex abuse.

Almost 1,000 were reported to Devon and Cornwall Police last year, while more than 300 went missing from care.

Now the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) wants to know why.

Spokesperson Sarah Allum, said: "They're on their own, they're looking for somebody who they can talk, who will befriend them. They are very, very vulnerable. They could be sexually abused, they could be threatened and they could be too scared to tell somebody what's happening to them.

"Children go missing for many different reasons. It may be that they're being bullied, it may be that they're unhappy in the placement where they are living. They might miss friends. They may just not have somebody who they feel they can trust and they can talk to."

According to a Freedom of Information request by the NSPCC, nationally nearly 3,000 children repeatedly went missing from care last year.

Police forces in England and Wales recorded over 28,000 incidents with some children running away dozens of times.

But the NSPCC believes this is an underestimation of the scale of the problem. It is thought less than half of all cases are reported to police, and only two thirds of police forces repsonded in full to the NSPCCs FOI request.

A 2010 enquiry by MPs looking into the issue was told there was evidence missing children are at risk of being groomed and sexually exploited, but the size of the problem was not clear.

9:39am 24th April 2013

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