BARNSLEY has far fewer teenagers in care than previous years but the number of younger children going into care has increased.

Hilary Owen, Barnsley Council's assistant executive director for safeguarding, health and social care, made the disclosure while speaking about children's social care and the town's care population at a council meeting.

She said there are currently 235 children in care in Barnsley - a drop in comparison to previous data from 2007/8 when there were 265.

Hilary said: "The age profile of those coming into care has changed significantly and there are far fewer teenagers in care, but the birth to fives has increased."

Scrutiny committee member, Cllr Charlie Wraith, asked if there was a safeguarding problem with children running away from home when in care.

Hilary told him it is something the council is 'reasonably good at' and uses 'Safe@Last', a charity that works with young people at risk through running away.

"Safe@Last, who we commission, provides return interviews with every child that runs away and they speak to the child and represent their interests."

Committee member Cllr Gill Carr asked about children admitted to hospital for treatment, and wanted to know what happens if a doctor is not sure if an injury in an accidental or deliberate.

Hilary assured members there are no children leaving hospital where a professional view hasn't been expressed about the cause of an injury.

The new committee has been set up to look at safeguarding arrangements for young people and how concerns raised by Ofsted in August last year are being addressed, after it found several key areas 'inadequate'.

The council has developed five safeguarding aims for youngsters, which are keeping them safe from maltreatment, neglect and sexual exploitation, accidental injury, bullying and discrimination, crime and antisocial behaviour and ensuring they are secure, stable and well cared for.