Child safety campaigners The Children's Society want the government to create a national action plan to ensure that schools, police, councils and health services prioritise the safety of child runaways.

The NSPCC estimates that more than one in ten under 16s in Britain will flee their home at some point, with over 100,000 children left homeless every year.

The campaign also has the backing of 33 bishops, with their letter calling for urgent action to reduce the risks of child exploitation being published in today's Daily Telegraph.

It read:  "Every five minutes in this country a child runs away from home and while away they face great risks on the streets, with many being hurt or harmed.

"In most cases children do not get the help they need and remain hidden from view."

A survey by The Children's Society showed that over two-thirds of runaways go unreported with one in six saying they were forced to sleep rough and one in 10 saying they had to resort to "dangerous activities" in order to survive.

The Children's Society chief executive Bob Reitemeier said: "Unless the Government funds a national network of refuges for runaways, thousands more children will slip into the hands of dangerous adults and be harmed."

The Association of Chief Police Officers had already pledged its support to the creation of a national network which now has more influential backing from the Bishops of London, Birmingham and Truro.

Rt Revd Tim Thornton of Truro added: "As Bishops in the Church of England we believe we have a moral duty to the care of these, the most vulnerable of children.

"We need to make this a priority for all agencies and professionals working with children. If this does not happen, we will be leaving tens of thousands of children at great risk of harm in our communities."

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 Posted on September 23 2011 at 1655 by Richard. Comment by emailing: richard.hook@pavpub.com