SHOCKING figures have revealed the true extent of the numbers of children who go missing in Dorset with one child being reported missing 55 times.

‘Child 7’ racked up the disappearances in just one year, from 2014-2015. Another child was reported missing 33 times during that time period.

The figures relate to the former Dorset County Council area which disappeared that year and refer to 162 missing episodes with 12 children undergoing multiple episodes.

However, in a Freedom of Information Request the former council also revealed that figures for missing children climbed to 145 episodes in 2015-2016 and 247 episodes a year later. From 2016-2017 there were 36 children who went missing multiple times.

The figures soared to 328 episodes in 2017 - just under one per day - with 53 children recording multiple episodes and one child going missing 30 times.

Last year the number fell back to 260 episodes.

Meanwhile Dorset Police have revealed that more than 1,700 children were reported missing from 2017-2018.

Many of these children were reported missing more than once, leading to a total of missing children incidents nearly three times the number of children missing, at 5,937.

Boys were more likely to go missing than girls and the age-group most likely to be reported missing is 14-year olds, with 1,369 incidences reported.

However, age is no barrier to a child going missing. In 2018 the force received five reports of babies under the age of one being missing and seven three-year-olds were reported missing in 2018. Sixty ten-year olds and 101 children aged 11 were reported missing in this year, too.

According to police stats, children were most likely to be reported missing in Bournemouth North where 563 incidents were relayed to police in 2017 and Bournemouth East, which saw 597 reports a year later.

Weymouth and Portland saw 575 reports in 2018, up from 349 the year before.

But even in areas considered more rural, or with an older demographic, youngsters were still reported missing in large numbers.

Christchurch saw 91 missing youth reports in 2018 and Bridport 64. and a total of 849 reports were received in Poole in just two years.

The information was given in response to a Freedom of Information request about Return Home Interviews, child exploitation and missing children.

It is a statutory duty upon councils to offer a Return Home interview with a young person who has gone missing.

The Children’s Society said: “It should be led by an independent, trained professional whom the young person trusts. The statutory guidance states that local authorities must offer an independent return interview to all children who run away or go missing from their family home or care.”

Dorset Police said it believes ‘enough information’ is being shared with the force by local authorities from these interviews.

However, the force could not say how many times child exploitation was reported in connection with a RHI because: “There is no current way of linking information relating to a child exploitation with a Return Home Interview without conducting manual review.” it said that to do this in relation to the FOI request would be too costly.