Green MSP Ross Greer has called on East Dunbartonshire Council to confirm the status of four children in their care following the council’s refusal to answer inquiries over a Freedom of Information request, which indicates that the children may have gone missing.
ECPAT (Every Child Protected Against Trafficking) released a report entitled Still in Harm's Way based on information that councils across the UK gave to the charity under freedom of information on the number of trafficked children and the number who went missing from care in 2017.
Up to five of the 246 children who went missing were in Scotland. ECPAT believe that as many as four of these could have been in East Dunbartonshire, as the council would only disclose that “less than five” children had disappeared from their care in response to freedom of information requests. City of Edinburgh Council confirmed the status of the one child in their care for whom concerns were raised.
Ross Greer, Green MSP for the West of Scotland said:
“As an East Dunbartonshire MSP I am really disturbed by what looks like an evasive answer by the council to serious questions about children potentially missing while in their care. I’ll be demanding answers on this immediately and if they do not give them, will ask Scottish Government ministers to intervene. We are all hoping that there is a reasonable explanation for this but until the council gives it, concern for these young people will only grow.”
“It’s outrageous that some of the most vulnerable children in the country have gone missing while in the care of local councils. They have been through trauma the rest of us cannot imagine and it would be heart breaking to think they have been failed by the state after being liberated from trafficking. Given this is happening across the UK, I hope that MPs will investigate it urgently. I raised support for human trafficking victims with the Scottish Government last week and will be following up this week with these new revelations. We should be proud that this report recommends the rest of the UK take inspiration from the approach in Scotland to caring for child victims of trafficking but that cannot distract from demands for clarity on the wellbeing of every single child in the care of our councils.”