In advance of forthcoming Regional Guidance on 'Children who go Missing' our local Partnership guidance on 'Children who go Missing' in Wolverhampton is given below. This should be read in conjunction with your own agency's pathways.
‘Children running away and going missing from home, care or view' is a safeguarding issue. The DfE published statutory guidance in January 2014 which primarily addressed the responsibilities on Local Authorities to children who run away or go missing from home care.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) recently reviewed the definition of Missing Children as follows:
‘Anyone whose whereabouts cannot be established will be considered as missing until located, and their well-being (or otherwise) confirmed.’
A child or young person can be missing from home or their care placement or a place where they are expected to be (e.g. school).
All reports of missing people sit within a continuum of risk from ‘no apparent risk (absent)’ through to high-risk cases that require immediate, intensive action by the Police.
Parents and carers, including staff acting in a parenting role in care homes, should accept normal parenting responsibilities and undertake reasonable actions to try and establish the whereabouts of the child. If the child's whereabouts cannot be established, then parents / carers / staff should not hesitate to report the fact that teh child appears to be missing to the police.
Where the child’s whereabouts are known but there are additional known risks the Police will take appropriate action to ensure the welfare of the child/young person.
It is the responsibility of the Police to ‘find’ a Missing Child, but Partners are expected to provide any relevant information to support them in their enquiries. In turn, it is the responsibility of agencies to satsify themselves that the investigation is being actively undertaken.
WHAT HAPPENS IN WOLVERHAMPTON
- Return Interview -All children who go Missing are actively encouraged to participate in a Return Interview. Only a small percentage of children do not engage in this process. All children and young people are subject of CSE screening on their return and a record of the interview is maintained. All Missing return interviews are undertaken by the Local Authority’s Vulnerable Young Peoples Service, with the exception of LAC placed more than 20 miles outside Wolverhampton – In this instance the allocated Social Worker will undertake the Return Interview.
- Children Missing Operations Group (CMOG) – All Missing children are identified at the multi-agency CMOG; intelligence is shared and themes are identified to inform Strategic planning and improved practice; this includes information obtained in the Return Interviews.
Sexually Exploited Missing and Trafficked (SEMT) Strategic Committee - This committee receives reports from CMOG and utilises the information to develop strategic responses to gaps in provision, challenge practice and support service improvements; review structures and inform the priorities of the safeguarding Board.
- Further support - The outcome of a Missing Episode results in a risk assessment which informs the need for further intervention, for example Child Protection enquiries, Child In Need support or Early Intervention.
REPEATEDLY MISSING CHILDREN / YOUNG PEOPLE
Where young people repeatedly go missing and are not known to Children's Social Care, the Local Authority’s Vulnerable Young Peoples Service will refer the child young person to the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).
A Strategy meeting will be held to determine what support is required to reduce the risk of that child / young person going missing again.