Children who go missing from home or care is a safeguarding issue. When children and young people go missing from home or care they may experience harm. In addition to this they are more likely to engage in risk taking and self-harming behaviour such as sleeping rough or engaging in offending behaviour. Missing children and young people are particularly vulnerable to violent crime, drug and alcohol misuse and exploitation which includes sexual exploitation. The DfE published statutory guidance in January 2014 which addressed the responsibilities on Local Authorities to children who go missing from home or care.
Joint Protocol for Children Missing from Home or Care
The Joint Protocol for Children Missing from Home or Care has been produced jointly by West Yorkshire Police and Children’s Social Care Services in Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield.
When children are missing from home or care they are potentially at risk. Due to this all missing episodes warrant professional attention to ensure that plans are in place to safeguard the child. All professionals who work with children should be familiar with this protocol.
This protocol defines the roles and responsibilities of all professionals involved in the care planning and day to day care of a child.
Child Looked After placed in Bradford
Where a Child Looked After (CLA) is placed in the area of another local authority, the Arrangements for Placement of Children (General) Regulations 1991 (Regulation 5) requires that notification is made by the placing authority to the local authority’s children’s social care service where the child is living.
The notification must state:
- The child’s name, date of birth and current address;
- Whether the child is Accommodated under Section 20 or subject to a Care Order or Supervision Order;
- The contact details for:
- The child’s placing authority; and
- The child’s Independent Reviewing Officer;
- If the Child being placed is known to be vulnerable to exploitation and may be at risk of going missing, then it is expected that a Risk Management Plan is in place and shared with the Placement Provider and Missing Coordinator at Bradford MASH.
For further information contact the Missing Coordinator:
Return interview service
Statutory guidance on children who go missing states that found they should be offered an independent return interview. (DfE, 2014:14)
The aim of return interview is to identify risk; understand the risks, aim to reduce those risks and equip children with the knowledge of how to keep themselves safe. (DfE, 2014:15-16)
Currently in Bradford, children who go missing (regardless of if they have a social worker or not) should be offered an independent return Interview within 72 hours. The feedback from these interviews should support the social worker in analysing the current needs of the child , identify any patterns of missing and consider any additional support needs to prevent future missing episodes.
Risk management planning
When there are concerns in relation to a child repeatedly missing a Risk Management Plan will need to be developed along with a Reporting Strategy.
There is a Missing Children – Bradford Protocol e-learning training package for all who work with children and young people in Bradford.
If a child is missing or away from home and they need to talk to someone: ChildLine is a free helpline for children and young people. It is a private and confidential service and the number won’t appear on the bill. Or they can visit www.childline.org.uk to speak to a counsellor online.
Missing People have a free and confidential helpline that is open 24 hours a day. Call: 116 000/ Text: 116 000 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
PLEASE REMEMBER… If you or someone else is in immediate danger please dial 999. If you are away from home, people will be worried about you. Although you might not want to come home, it is important to let people know that you are safe.
Key reports and references
Missing People- Missing People: The ‘Turn2 Directory’ can put you in touch with support services in your area.