The number of missing children in West Dunbartonshire has almost doubled year on year, a new police report has suggested. 

Statistics from Police Scotland show that by the end of February this year, there were 303 missing person reports recorded – an increase of 31% from 232 from the previous year. 

A report presented to members of the housing and communities committee suggested that the overall increase is due to a rise in the number of missing person reports relating to children and looked after children which has risen from 93 to 184 year on year.

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During the meeting, councillors raised concerns about the number of children in this situation and what could be done to prevent it from happening.

Councillor Michelle McGinty said: “There seems to be a rise in the number of children that are going missing.

“I am just wondering if there is anything we can do to be proactive in that? Are we going into schools and children’s homes to see if there’s a reason why this is? It seems a really big rise from 93 to 184 missing children reported. 

“I know we are never going to stop it from happening but I just wondered if there was anything that could be done proactively to identify kids that are at risk of going missing and can we work on that?”

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A spokesman from Police Scotland said that they were working on a protocol for “looked after children” to try and reduce the number of missing person figures.

He said: “In terms of the missing people I do know that we have seen a significant increase in the number of missing people this year to date.

“That can have a significant impact on our resources. The report evidenced that the number of missing children has nearly doubled. 

“At the moment we have got work ongoing to introduce a new looked after children protocol which has been something that has been introduced in other areas across Scotland has been really effective in those areas and the number of missing people has reduced.

“This is something that we are bringing to West Dunbartonshire at the moment. Clearly missing children are at significant risk and whilst it is challenging – we treat it as a priority.”