CHILDREN in care were reported missing more often than any other group in Glasgow last year.

Vulnerable children under the care of the local authority made up a third of the total number of missing person cases for Police Scotland throughout 2018.

More than 705 cases involving looked-after and accommodated youngsters were recorded by officers, while 398 non-looked after kids disappeared.

Figures obtained by the Evening Times through a Freedom of Information request revealed that children overall accounted for more than half of all of Glasgow’s “misper” probes.

The figures come after it was revealed that just five children in care accounted for more than 350 Police Scotland missing persons investigations between 2017 and 2018.

Cared-for adults also made up a significant part of the figures, with 311 reports made to authorities.

Throughout the year, the force recorded 2,096 missing persons reports, with four people having been found dead in ‘not suspicious circumstances’.

Across Glasgow, 682 adults, over the age 18, were reported missing. The majority of those were reported from the Govan and Craigton, and East Centre and Calton local command areas.

A spokesman from NSPCC Scotland said: “Children go missing from care for many reasons – for example they’re being bullied or they’ve been placed in a home away from their family and they miss them and their friends.

“Children who go missing are at a greater risk of physical abuse, grooming and sexual exploitation and we know that children in care are significantly more likely to run away than their peers. Many will have been abused before being placed in care and need a great deal of attention and protection.

“That’s why it’s crucial for all looked-after children to have consistent and sensitive support in a caring environment to help them overcome their early life experiences.”

Chief Inspector Vicky Little, Area Commander, said: “There are many reasons which can be the cause of a person to go missing. We have a variety of resources at our disposal and work closely with a wide range of partner agencies to help us trace them as soon as possible.

“It is true that a higher number of looked-after children go missing in comparison to other categories. This may be due to factors such as lifestyle and the likelihood that they have had to move away from friends in other areas. This is a wider societal issue making prevention a hard task."

Chief Inspector Little added: "Getting to the root of why people go missing is a huge part of our job, but we cannot do it alone. We work with agencies such as local authorities and hospitals, as well as the families of those who go missing repeatedly. After every missing person enquiry, we look at what we have learned and we always take something from it. It is about what we can do to improve the next time.”

“One of our resources we make increased use of is social media, meaning we can get a missing person's photograph out immediately.  When a young person goes missing, often posting their images online prompts them to get in touch with their family or caregivers to let them know they are safe.

“A missing person is never traced officially until they have been seen in person by a relevant authority, contact online or via phone is never enough. Every missing person is also spoken to on their return to ensure they are safe and well and to help prevent further incidents."