It can also be revealed that the care home entrusted to look after the two teenagers who committed suicide last Sunday reported 232 cases of missing young people to police in the year before the two deaths.

The Good Shepherd Centre reported nearly five absconders a week in 2008 from its school care and residential units.

The centre, which provides schooling and residential accommodation for female adolescents, is facing a raft of inquiries following the suicides of Neve Lafferty, 15, and Georgia Rowe, 14.

The facility’s security procedures are likely to be investigated after the vulnerable pair jumped off the Erskine Bridge after walking out of the centre.

According to the Good Shepherd’s annual return, employees reported 155 cases of missing females from the school care service in one 12-month period.

This involved 22 individual service users – meaning that a large number of the cases were repeats.

A further 77 cases of missing persons from the centre’s “close support unit” were reported to police in the same year, involving 18 individuals.

This newspaper has also established that almost one in 10 residential care facilities in Scotland has attained poor grades since 2008 from the Care Commission – the body responsible for regulating the homes.

Shoddy practices include homes failing to keep up-to-date medical records on young people, staff physically restraining children without proper training, and employees working in homes without background checks being made.

It has also emerged that the Care Commission may not be accessing all the information it needs to conduct thorough inspections.

Scotland’s 206 care homes look after some of society’s most vulnerable young people, many of whom have acute emotional and medical problems.

An Office for National Statistics study found that 45% of five to 17-year-olds in local authority care north of the Border were assessed as having a mental disorder, while 39% of all children sampled had taken cannabis.

While standards in care homes are said to have improved considerably in recent years – staff have to be qualified and registered, and each facility is regularly inspected – patchy services are still being provided around the country.

The Care Commission, set up in 2001, grades each children’s home according to four measurements: quality of care and support; quality of environment; staffing; and management and leadership. Of the 206 homes, this newspaper can reveal that 18 have been issued with a “weak” grading for one or more aspects of their service since 2008.

For instance, the Cambusnethan facility in Wishaw received “weak” marks in all four categories last year and on two separate counts in March.

The Care Commission’s report last year reported concerns about the use of physical force by staff: “One young person recounted being restrained inappropriately by a staff member sitting on their back. There was no record of this restraint. Records reflected two restraints for one young person. The young person involved advised that one hold “was too hard” and described staff “slamming my head down and sitting on my stomach”.”

It added: “The staff involved in conducting the restraints recorded had not received relevant training in the preceding year.”

The report also noted that the windows in the home posed a “significant risk of injury”, as well as highlighting “significant faults” in relation to bedroom doors and locks.

The Cairngorms Outdoors home in Grantown on Spey also received four “weak” grades from the Commission

in 2008.

One of the concerns was that it had “very limited information” on new service users, a drawback that could prevent staff from meeting the young people’s needs.

The home’s knowledge of clients’ medical history was also addressed: “The service requires to take a stronger stance with placing authorities to ensure that they have up-to-date medical information on young people.”

The commission also found “no staff training records” for induction, and concluded that there were “clear gaps” in staff awareness regarding child protection issues.

However, the centre’s follow-up inspection showed signs of progress.

The Rowanlea Resource Centre in Johnstone received three weak grades last year. Although the home only caters for around 17 young people, the Care Commission noted that there had been 192 absconding instances in the first quarter of the year.

The report concluded: “There would appear to be some correlation between increased numbers, inappropriate referrals and the number of incidents of absconding and incidents requiring the use of restraint.”

It also quoted one unnamed source: “I have felt that placing a child in this unit might be dangerous for other young people there.”

The centre’s grades were noted as “adequate” in the follow-up inspection.

The SENSE Family Resource Centre in Pollokshields, which cares for young people with sensory or other impairments, was branded “weak” this year for its quality of care, as well as the environment provided.

Its inspection found carpets insecurely fitted to the floor, light fittings broken, blinds ripped, emergency pull cords not working, showers needing repaired, rusty radiators and general cleanliness below par.

The report added: “Procedures for the storage and administration of medication were found to be unsatisfactory.”

The Care Commission also found that the Forge, a home in Penpont, last year employed staff for up to three weeks without knowing the results of Disclosure Scotland checks.

In some cases, the report revealed, there were “no records of references being received”.

The Commission said that some staffing issues were of “serious concern”, although the home’s grades have since improved.

Tam Baillie, Scotland’s new children’s commissioner, said care home inspections were “robust” but said: “We’ve got some way to go to make sure we are realising the rights to good health for all those children who are in care.”

He added: “What all this signals is the importance of looking at the early years.

“Unless we tackle how we support those families, we are always going to be coping with difficulties that could have been dealt with at an earlier stage.”

However, evidence exists that the Care Commission may not be getting all the information necessary for accurate reports.

Four children’s care homes in Glasgow – Newark Drive, Wallacewell, Gray Street, and Liddlesdale – all received positive reports from 2008 onwards.

In each case, not a single “weak” grade was awarded.

This is in spite of figures released by Strathclyde Police under freedom of information legislation which reveal that officers were called to the four homes 1098 times between January and December 2007.

The force confirmed that the incidents may have included theft, assault and damage to property.

Of the total, 773 incidents related to missing persons, escapes and reports of young people absconding. Another 120 incidents resulted in someone being arrested or reported. The home with the highest number of police call-outs, Wallacewell, was given three “very good” grades by the Commission last year.

At the Good Shepherd Centre, three Care Commission inspections in 2009 produced either “good” or “very good” grades for the centre in a school setting.

However, the inspection found that young people felt that “things had not been so good recently”, with concerns raised about the increasing number of restraints on young women, as well as high sickness levels among staff.

These accounts followed a much more criticial internal report from 2007.

This report warned of strangers accessing the premises at night, and standards falling below acceptable levels.

It noted: “It is difficult to imagine a more inappropriate environment in which to manage a group of emotionally charged adolescent girls.“

Puzzlingly, the Care Commission’s two reports from the same year did not flag up significant concerns, raising questions about the regulator’s inspections.

Another possible flaw in the system appears to be the lack of available data for young people who abscond from

care homes.

The Scottish Government does not collect the information, while the Care

Commission does not gather the figures on a national basis.

A spokesman for the Care Commission said: “While we are not informed of all matters involving the police, we are notified of serious incidents.

“We use this information when we are assessing the overall quality of care being provided by the service and whether young peoples’ needs are being met appropriately.”