MORE than a third of Bracknell’s children in care went missing on 316 unique occasions last year.

This represented an increase of more than 60 percent from the previous year.

There are 138 young people in care in the area, and six of the 47 Children Looked After (CLA) children who went missing in 2016/17 accounted for 89 of the episodes.

It was claimed at a panel of Bracknell’s councillors that there were concerns that these six young people took part in drug running and Nick Young, the manager of the Child Sexual Exploitation and Missing team, said: “'Bracknell is particularly vulnerable to county lines.”

‘County lines’ is where drug traffickers, often from London, meet on the borders of neighbouring areas with local drug dealers to supply them with class-a drugs that can then be sold in urban areas in the town.

Those that take part in this are often sent away on ‘placements’, meaning that they are relocated to another part of the country to stop them staying involved with drug dealers and gangs.

Last year 24 Bracknell children were sent to residences in across the south.

However a report presented to councillors claimed there had been “no increases in resources to respond to missing” children based over 20 miles away.

The report continued: “The barriers created by long-distance placement has meant it has taken longer to have an impact than in previous years.”

Councillor Dr Gareth Barnard, who chaired the meeting, said: “We need to make sure that we put in place the best resources we can to provide for these children.

"These children are as important as every other child in Bracknell Forest and we need to do as much as we possibly can."

The report also read: “Of the 47 CLA children who were reported as missing and/or absent the past 12 months, 23 of them were either deemed at risk of or vulnerable to Child Sexual Exploitation at the time of missing/absent.”

Nick Young claimed his team are looking at improving their services by working with police, providing more local provisions and implementing a CLA pod to reduce the number of missing children.

This year, the team has already seen a reduction in the number of missing episodes compared to this time last year.