Police forces in England and Wales are to stop sending officers to every report of a missing person, to focus only on people whose disappearance is out of character or thought to be at risk. But David Tucker, from the NSPCC, said the charity fears the new definitions could put children at risk:
We are very concerned that the new definition of 'missing persons' will put vulnerable children at risk of being groomed and sexually exploited.
The length of time a child goes missing is irrelevant because they can fall into the clutches of abusers very quickly.
Children go missing for a variety of reasons; they may be bullied, abused or are generally unhappy. But whatever the reason, this problem must be taken seriously.
We expect all professionals including the police to invest the right amount of time and take the necessary action to protect all children as soon as they go missing.