Of the nearly 760 trafficked or unaccompanied children who disappeared from care homes across the UK last year, over 200 have not been found, according to a study by ECPAT UK and Missing People charities published on Tuesday.
The study found that over 160 children went missing at least once in the 12-month period leading to September 2015. That is more than a quarter of all trafficked children in the UK care system.
Additionally, 593 of the 4,744 unaccompanied child asylum seekers placed under the protection of local authorities had disappeared at least once in the same period.
This means that from September 2014 to September 2015, care services were responsible for nearly 30 percent of all the UK’s child trafficking victims and 13 percent of missing unaccompanied children.
The two charities said the data they had collected from 200 local authorities underscored the need to reform the child protection system in Britain.
Chloe Setter, from ECPAT UK, which mainly focuses on child trafficking, said the fact that the issue of vulnerable children going missing had “remained neglected” amounted to a “national disgrace.”
“We must not accept this as a reality any longer. Every child that goes missing is a failure in our duty to protect them from harm,” she added.
Susannah Drury, from Missing People, called on the law enforcement to treat the trafficked or unaccompanied children who go missing as “high risk” and prioritize their safety over “any questions about their immigration status or criminal activity.”
The report came amid international calls on the UK to take its share of responsibility with regards to the thousands of refugees who are living in a makeshift camp in Calais, France.
The UK government raised many eyebrows in early September by announcing its plans to build a 13 feet (3.9 meters) wall in order to minimize the refugee flow from the camp, which houses 3,000 children.