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Children who Run Away / Go Missing from Home and Care

This chapter is currently under review.


Contents

1. Introduction
2. Definitions
3. Why Children Go Missing
  3.1 Push Factors
  3.2 Pull Factors
  3.3 Risks to Children and Young People who go Missing
4. Children Who Go Missing In Specific Circumstances
  4.1 Children Who Are Abducted
  4.2 Forced Marriage and Honour Based Abuse
  4.3 Trafficked Children
  4.4 Grooming for Potential Sexual Exploitation
  4.5 Impact of Technology
5. Action To Be Taken
  5.1 Police Responsibilities
  5.2 Independent Return Interviews
  5.3 Missing from Home
  5.4 Missing from Care
6. Looked After Children Placed Away From Their Home Area
  6.1 Children Placed out of Hull Children’s Social Care Area
  6.2 Children Placed within Hull Children’s Social Care Area
7. Prevention
8. Flowcharts and Forms
  Further Information
  Amendments to this Chapter


1. Introduction

Running away is a dangerous activity that puts children at risk. Children who go missing are at risk of violence, victimisation, sexual exploitation and involvement in crime. A child who goes missing just once faces the same immediate risks as those who go missing on a regular basis. Equally the risks to children who go missing on a regular basis must not lead professionals to become complacent and minimise their response. Each missing episode for any individual child requires a consistently high level of response.

Children who go missing are often facing a range of problems. They are more likely than their peers to have drug problems, be in trouble with the Police and be truanting or to have been physically or sexually abused.

As well as short term risks, there are also long term implications, e.g. nearly half of sentenced prisoners report having run away as children.

Children’s Social Care and the Police work together when a child is missing. This practice guidance has been developed to assist in this joint working to ensure that those agencies involved with children who run away/go missing, whether they are Looked After Children or children who go missing from home, are clear about their responsibilities and the actions to be taken in order to ensure the safety of the child prior to and following their return.


2. Definitions

Interim Guidance on the Management, Recording and Investigation of Missing Persons (2013) issued to the Police uses the following definitions:

Missing:

Anyone whose whereabouts cannot be established and where the circumstances are out of character or the context suggests the person may be subject of crime or at risk of harm to themselves or another’; and

Absent:

‘A person is not at a place where they are expected or required to be (and there is no apparent safeguarding risk)’

Unauthorised Absence:

This term applies to children or young people who absent themselves for a short period and then return by themselves. They may stay out longer than agreed, either on purpose or unwittingly and although they are absent without permission, their whereabouts is known or thought to be known. Such children may be testing boundaries or staying with friends without permission. This status must be continually reviewed.

This category usually relates to children in the care of the Local Authority. The responsible care provider and relevant partners, if necessary, should work together to ensure the safety of the child. A robust risk assessment and care plan is required and is key to establishing the actions taken to safeguard the welfare of the child.

Statutory Guidance on Children Who Run Away or Go Missing from Home or Care (January 2014) uses the following definitions:

Child

For the purposes of this document a child is anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday.

Away from Placement without Authorisation:

  • A Looked After Child whose whereabouts are known but who is not at their placement or the place they are expected to be and the carer has concerns or the incident has been notified to the local authority or the Police.

Young Runaway:

  • A child who has run away from their home or care placement, or feels they have been forced or lured to leave.

Missing Child

A child reported as missing to the Police by their family or carers.

Missing from Care:

  • A Looked After Child who is not at their placement or the place they are expected to be (e.g. school) and their whereabouts are not known.

Responsible local authority:

  • The local authority that is responsible for a Looked After Child’s care and care planning.

Host local authority:

  • The local authority in which a Looked After Child is placed when placed outside of the responsible local authority’s area.

The Police classification of a person as ‘Missing’ or ‘Absent’ will be based on on-going risk assessment. Note that Absent within the Police definition would not include those defined as Away from Placement Without Authorisation above: a child whose whereabouts are known would not be treated as either ‘Missing’ or ‘Absent’ under the Police definitions.

It is important to note that professionals or others reporting a child missing to the Police, should not make the judgement themselves as to whether a child is missing or absent – this decision will be made by the Police on the basis of the information provided. For example, if a child who is thought to be absent is at risk of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), the Police Risk Assessments would take account of this additional information and may need to change the category to Missing.

Where a child is recorded by Police as being absent, they will agree review times and any on-going actions with the person reporting the absence. All persons recorded by Police as absent are monitored on the Police COMPACT system. Monitoring is ongoing and subject to regular review to monitor level of risk. Where information comes to light which introduces any risk to that person, then the situation may be re-categorised as ‘missing’ and a Police investigation started.

One of the overriding principles of ‘absent’ is that Police are able to focus resources more effectively, in accordance with the Police risk assessments of ‘absent’ and ‘missing’ incidents.


3. Why Children Go Missing

Children run away for a variety of reasons, but whatever the reason, running away is often a sign that something is wrong in the child’s life and a response must be made quickly.

In order to conduct a thorough assessment, it is important to ask the child the reason why they have run away, as this will inform decisions about the appropriate service intervention or response.

Common reasons for running away are:

3.1 Push Factors:

  • Problems at home – ranging from arguments with parents/carers to long-term abuse or maltreatment;
  • Family break-up – children drawn into their parents’ conflicts are less likely to do well at school and more likely to truant or to run away from home;
  • Mental health problems – a disproportionate number of children who run away from home have mental health problem;
  • Bullying – children who are being severely bullied are more likely to run away from school and home or care;
  • Teenage pregnancy – some young women run away or are forced to leave home because they become pregnant (or fear they may be pregnant). They may also be in denial about their pregnancy, meaning that they are not getting the advice they need about pregnancy options. There is also a greater risk of pregnancy when girls run away, and those working with them will need to ensure they have rapid access to confidential contraception and sexual health services to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

3.2 Pull Factors:

  • Running to be near friends or family – especially when a child is in care and there are problems in contact arrangements with family and friends;
  • Grooming for potential sexual exploitation or trafficking – children may run away or go missing following grooming by adults who will seek to exploit them.

3.3 Risks to Children and Young People who go Missing

The immediate risks associated with going missing include:

  • No means of support or legitimate income - leading to high risk activities;
  • Involvement in criminal activities;
  • Victim of abuse;
  • Victim of crime, for example through sexual assault and exploitation;
  • Alcohol/substance misuse;
  • Deterioration of physical and mental health;
  • Missing out on schooling; and
  • Increased vulnerability.

Longer-term risks include:

  • Long-term drug dependency/alcohol dependency;
  • Crime;
  • Homelessness;
  • Disengagement from education;
  • Child sexual exploitation; and
  • Poor physical and/or mental health.


4. Children Who Go Missing In Specific Circumstances

As well as push/pull factors; there are other specific circumstances in which children may go missing.

4.1 Children who are Abducted

Where a child has been abducted or forcibly removed from their place of residence, this is a ‘crime in action’ and should be reported to the Police immediately.

4.2 Forced Marriage and Honour Based Abuse

Some children run away because they are at risk of abuse. The prospect of a forced marriage in particular can lead to young women running away from home. Further guidance and information can be found at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.

Also refer to Forced Marriage Safeguarding Practice Guidance and Honour Based Abuse Safeguarding Practice Guidance.

4.3 Trafficked Children

Please refer to additional practice guidance, Modern Slavery and Child Trafficking Safeguarding Practice Guidance.

4.4 Grooming for Potential Sexual Exploitation

In some cases children may run away or go missing following grooming by adults, (including online grooming), who will seek to exploit them sexually. Evidence suggests that 90 per cent of children subjected to sexual grooming go missing at some point.

The supply of drugs and alcohol or the offering of gifts may be used to entice and coerce children into associations with inappropriate adults. Both girls and boys are at risk of sexual exploitation.

Looked after children may also be targeted by those wishing to abuse and sexually exploit them, and encouraging these children to run in order to disrupt their placement is often part of this abuse. Children living within residential care units are particularly vulnerable to being directly targeted in this way. Please also refer to Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Safeguarding Practice Guidance.

4.5 Impact of Technology

The role of fixed and mobile technologies (including the internet, mobile / smartphones and games consoles) in facilitating the grooming process is well documented. Some adults who seek to abuse children exploit these technologies by using text messages, e-mail, chat rooms, Instant Messenger and social networking sites (e.g. Facebook) to set up actual ‘off line’ abusive situations. These situations often involve children going missing. In addition, online bullying is often experienced very differently from traditional forms of bullying as the opportunity to target individuals wherever they are and at any time has greatly increased due to developments in online technologies. Please see E-Safety: Children Exposed to Abuse through the Digital Media Safeguarding Practice Guidance.


5. Action to be Taken

Running away should be seen as an indicator of underlying problems which may need further intervention. Some children who run away from home will be Children in Need and therefore entitled to services provided by the local authority or local voluntary agencies, these might include advice, guidance and counselling for the child and for their families.

It is important therefore, that all statutory and voluntary agencies in contact with children work collaboratively when children go missing to provide an effective and prompt response, which will enable everything possible to be done to make sure that they are found and made safe. Please refer to Children and Families who go Missing (including Unborn Babies) Safeguarding Practice Guidance regarding Education and Health Services responsibilities and actions to be taken.

5.1 Police Responsibilities

5.1.1 Risk Assessment

The Police will prioritise all incidents of missing children as medium or high risk. Where a child is recorded as being absent, the details will be recorded by the Police, who will also agree review times and any on-going actions with the person reporting. A child who is absent may still be at risk, for example of CSE, and the Police risk assessment should reflect this

A missing child incident would be prioritised as ‘high risk’ where:

  • The risk posed is immediate and there are substantial grounds for believing that the child is in danger through their own vulnerability; or
  • The child may have been the victim of a serious crime; or
  • The risk posed is immediate and there are substantial grounds for believing that the public is in danger.

The high risk category requires the immediate deployment of Police resources. Police guidance makes clear that a member of the senior management team or similar command level must be involved in the examination of initial enquiry lines and approval of appropriate staffing levels. Such cases should lead to the appointment of an Investigating Officer and possibly a Senior Investigating Officer and a Police Search Advisor. There should be a media strategy and / or close contact with outside agencies. Family support should be put in place. The UK Missing Persons Bureau should be notified of the case immediately. CEOP (National Crime Agency) and local authority children’s services should also be notified.

A missing child incident would be prioritised as ‘medium risk’ where the risk posed is likely to place the subject in danger or they are a threat to themselves or others. This category requires an active and measured response by Police and other agencies in order to trace the missing person and support the person reporting. This will involve a proactive investigation and search in accordance with the circumstances to locate the missing child as soon as possible.

On receiving a report of a child missing or who has run away from home the Police will consider whether a referral should be made to Children’s Social Care for an Assessment under s.17 of the Children Act 1989, or whether Section 47 Enquiries should be commenced.

It is important that as much information as possible is recorded when the report is first made to the Police to ensure that the report is responded to appropriately. The level of risk can only be properly determined when an officer takes the full report details.

5.1.2 Enquiries

Initial enquiries must be completed to ascertain the risk to the missing person.

Once completed, if the child remains missing, the case must be monitored and reviewed effectively.

The timings of these reviews should be dependent upon the case details. All reviews should include basic checks to establish if the person has returned or if there is a reason to believe that the person may now be considered at greater risk. The Police should refer to Interim Guidance on the Management, Recording and Investigation of Missing Persons (2013) for further guidance.

5.1.3 Safe and Well Check

The Police will conduct a Safe and Well Check of the missing child as soon as possible after they return. The purpose of the Safe and Well Check is:

  • To look for any indications that the child has suffered harm;
  • Identify where and with whom they have been; and
  • To give them an opportunity to disclose any offending by, or against, them.

Where a child goes missing frequently, it may not be practicable to see them every time they return. In these cases, a reasonable decision should be taken with regard to the frequency of such checks; this should take account of the child’s most up to date Missing Person Risk Assessment. This will mainly apply to children missing from care who are likely to have other people responsible for their welfare to check this. An example of this may be where they go missing on several occasions each day and it would be more effective to see them just once in each day at a convenient time. Every effort should be made to visit those children missing from home on every occasion.

If warranted, where the Police undertake a Safe and Well Check with a child who has run away from home, they should refer the child to Children’s Social Care via usual safeguarding channels.

Missing person cases should not be closed without the person first being seen by the Police.

5.2 Independent Return Interviews

See 'Return Interview Procedures for Children Missing from Home or Care' Flowchart.

Whether children have gone missing from their family home or from a looked after setting, arrangements should be made for the child to have the opportunity for an Independent Return Interview. This interview should be carried out by an independent person who is trained to carry out these interviews and who is able to follow-up any actions that emerge. Many children who run away or go missing need to build up trust with somebody before they will discuss in-depth the reasons why they decided to run away. The interview and actions that follow from it should:

  • Identify and deal with any harm the child has suffered – including harm that might not have already been disclosed as part of the Safe and Well Check, and any need for medical attention;
  • Understand and try to address the reasons why the child ran away;
  • Try to prevent it happening again.

It is good practice that the Independent Return Interview takes place within 72 hours.

Independent Return Interviews for Looked After Children missing from foster care/residential care should be undertaken by someone independent of the child’s placement, and ideally before they return to the placement.

5.3 Missing from Home

5.3.1 Responsibilities of Alerter: Parent/Carer

See 'Reporting Children who Run Away/Go Missing from Home or Care' Flowchart.

Parents (and carers) are expected to undertake the following basic measures to try and locate their child if considered safe to do so:

  • Search bedroom/house/outbuildings/vehicles;
  • Contact known friends and relatives where child may be;
  • Visit locations that the child is known to frequent.

Parents should then telephone the Police with details of the missing person.

Details required:

  • Child’s name;
  • Date of Birth;
  • Where, when and who missing with;
  • What child was last wearing;
  • Description of child;
  • Recent photograph;
  • Medical history;
  • Time and location last seen.

There is an expectation that parents/carers will report a missing child, however where a professional or any other person is aware a child is missing and the parent has not reported this they should immediately notify the Police, Children’s Social Care or Immediate Help (Emergency Duty Team) if out of hours.

5.3.2 Child is Located or Returns to Home Address

See 'Return Interview Procedures for Children Missing from Home or Care' Flowchart.

When a missing child is located by family or friends etc, it is their responsibility to return the child to the home address. Parents must inform the Police when a child returns of their own accord.

When a child is located and a risk is present, a Police Officer may accompany the family or the Police may be requested to collect and return the child to their place of residence. However, the Police will only return the child to their place of residence if it is safe to do so; this may be ascertained through the Safe and Well Check.

When children missing from home are located but have not been reported missing to the Police by their families, further investigation might be warranted. A referral should be made to the Police or Children’s Social Care when there is continuing safeguarding concerns. If it appears that the family and/or child might benefit from additional support consideration should be given to undertaking an Early Help Assessment.

The Police will undertake a Safe and Well Check as soon as possible after the child returns. Arrangements should also be made for the child to have the opportunity for an Independent Return Interview.

5.3.3 Assessment of Need

An Early Help Assessment offers the basis for early identification of children’s additional needs, sharing of this information between organisations and the co-ordination of service provision. If the child has more specialist needs they should be referred to the appropriate agency for a more specialist assessment.

Where an individual needs assessment indicates the child may be at risk of harm, a referral should be made to Children’s Social Care. An evaluation of whether the child is likely to run away from home in the future will be one of the factors that inform the level of risk posed to the child, and the decision as to whether a referral to Children’s Social Care is appropriate for an assessment to be undertaken. The assessment of whether a child might run away again should be based on information about their:

  • Individual circumstances, including family circumstances in which the child has gone missing;
  • Motivation for running;
  • Possible destination; and
  • Recent pattern of absences (if any).

The degree of risk likely to be faced by the child should they run away again should also be considered, based on the child’s experiences whilst absent from home.

5.4 Missing from Care

5.4.1 Responsibilities of Alerters: Foster Carer/Residential Worker

See 'Reporting Children who Run Away/Go Missing from Home or Care' Flowchart.

Residential staff/foster carers should make enquiries to locate the missing person with relatives/friends. This should include searches of the accommodation and local area. Foster carer/residential staff should then telephone the Police with details of the missing person.

Details required:

  • Child’s name;
  • Date of Birth;
  • Where, when and who missing with;
  • What child was last wearing;
  • Description of child;
  • Recent photograph;
  • Medical history;
  • Time and location last seen;
  • Legal status.

Details of the child’s current risk assessment (see Section 5.4.3 Risk Assessment when children go Missing) and all further information required by the Police will be provided at this stage.

All efforts to locate the child must be recorded and auditable.

Where children are Looked After and placed with parents subject to the ‘Placement with Parents etc Regulations’ 1991, the parent, in addition to alerting the Police and following the process stated above, will also inform the Child Care Social Worker or Immediate Help Team if out of hours.

5.4.2 Care Plan and Assessment of Potential to go Missing

Every Looked After Child must have a Care Plan based on a comprehensive assessment of their needs. All Care Plans must be kept under review.

As part of the assessment and Care Plan the Social Worker must consider all potential risks to the child including, for those identified as being at risk of going missing, an assessment which focuses on this issue. This should be completed in consultation with parents / carers, who should be asked whether the child has ever run away or stayed in unknown, possibly unsafe, places. It should also include those with professional knowledge of the child.

The assessment of potential to go missing should look at:

  • What the risk is likely to be of the child going missing;
  • What level of risk going missing would present to the child or others;
  • The level of supervision or support to be offered to the child; and
  • The parent’s views on what should be done in the event of their child going missing.

This will form part of the Child’s Plan and will be located on the child’s electronic record.

Where appropriate the child will be told what will happen when he/she goes missing and will have had the details of this procedure explained to them.

When a child identified as being at risk of going missing enters a residential or foster placement a “Missing Person Action Plan” will be completed. The Missing Person Action Plan is reviewed monthly in residential care at the child’s core group meetings. In foster care this will be reviewed quarterly or more frequently if circumstances significantly change. These meetings will include the child, parents (where appropriate), foster carer/residential workers, Social Worker and other relevant professionals.

5.4.3 Risk Assessment when Children go Missing

Children’s Social Care will be acting as a reasonable parent and should make every effort to locate and/or ascertain the whereabouts of any child and secure their return before contacting the Police. This avoids unnecessary work on the part of the Police, particularly when the whereabouts of the child is known, they are not at risk and are testing boundaries.

When a child goes missing from care, it will be necessary to undertake a risk-assessment; this will enable the Authority to decide whether or not to refer the matter to the Police in the first instance. A looked after child will be considered “missing” as defined in Section 2, Definitions. In such cases the “Missing Person Risk Assessment” form should be completed every time they go missing.

The duration of absences should not be taken as the primary indicator of risk. Absences of short duration may be as risky as lengthier ones. Factors to be taken into consideration when a child goes missing from their placement include:

  • Previously-assessed levels of vulnerability;
  • Age of child;
  • Time of day/night;
  • Information specific to the child (e.g. previous history of going missing; whether contact issues or family conflict might have influenced them to go missing from their placement;
  • Whether or not the child has any physical/learning difficulties or serious health problems (e.g. diabetes or epilepsy);
  • The emotional health of the child (e.g. whether they have a history of harm or self-injurious behaviour); and
  • Suspected associations when the child is missing along with possible areas in which the child might be located.

N.B. Any child whose risk assessment defines them as high risk for any “missing” episode will be reported to the Police immediately.

Where children run away persistently and/or engage in other risky behaviour, such as frequently leaving their placement to associate with unfamiliar or inappropriate adults, the care provider, in consultation with the authority responsible for them, should convene a multi-agency risk management meeting. The child’s needs should be re-assessed and their care plan updated to incorporate a risk-management strategy to minimise missing-from-care incidents. This strategy should be recorded in detail in the Child’s Care Plan.

5.4.4 Notification

Whenever a child goes missing from a residential home or foster placement, the foster carer or the manager on duty in the residential home must ensure that the following individuals and agencies are informed within the timescales contained in the child’s ‘Missing Person Action Plan’:

  • The local Police;
  • The authority responsible for the child’s placement – if they have not already been notified prior to the Police being informed that the child is absent. Notification is likely to be by phone in the first instance followed up by e-mail/written confirmation. It will not be enough just to notify the child’s Social Worker;
  • The parents/carers and all those who have parental responsibility (unless there are good reasons connected with the child’s welfare for this to be inappropriate);
  • A record must be made as to when all those with Parental Responsibility have been informed, and what information has been given to them;
  • LAC Health Team (Social Worker’s responsibility when the child is in foster care and should be done immediately);
  • LAC Nurse (residential staff immediately inform the LAC Nurse when the child goes missing from a residential home).

5.4.5 Reviewing Mechanisms

Children’s Social Care

The relevant Children’s Social Care Manager will need to be kept informed of any developments or lack of development regarding absences of 12 hours, 24 hours and 48 hours. Residential staff report to their line manager, who will keep their Children’s Social Care Manager informed. The foster carer will inform the child’s Social Worker and their Fostering Social Worker, who in turn will inform their respective Children’s Social Care Managers.

If a child is missing for 7 days there will be a multi-agency strategy meeting. However, there are certain circumstances when this would be undertaken earlier e.g. where significant vulnerability factors exist.

The relevant Head of Service and Senior Police Officer will therefore review episodes of absence lasting 11 weeks and thereafter at 12 weekly intervals until their safety is ascertained. Consideration also needs to be given by both agencies regarding the timing of media strategies. This will be done on a case by case basis.

Police

The Police reviewing mechanisms are as follows:

High Risk Cases – notification to be made immediately to the Duty Detective Inspector and on call Senior Investigating Officer (SIO). Consideration should also to be given to informing the Assistant Chief Constable (Operations) where the circumstances involves the commission of crime or other suspicious circumstances.

Medium Risk Cases - are to be reviewed by the Duty Detective Inspector after 48hrs. Cases should also be discussed at the Daily Management Meeting to review the management and co-ordination of enquiries on a daily basis.

N.B. It is Force Policy that a child under the age of 18 will never be classed as a low risk. The level of risk is determined by a number of factors taking into consideration vulnerability and circumstances of the case.

After 72 hours the Police Missing Persons Database (COMPACT) automatically notifies National Missing Persons Bureau of the missing person.

Divisional Detective Superintendent/Chief Inspector will review all outstanding cases at 28 and 56 days.

Divisional Commanders will ensure that reviews are also undertaken at 3 months, 6 months and 12 months. Following which an annual review can be undertaken, at this point these can be delegated to a Superintendent.

Recording

Throughout the processes identified within this practice guidance and within own agency procedures, a full record must be kept of all actions taken and decision-making. This includes the giving and receiving of messages. Both Children’s Social Care and Police must keep such records. These records must be retained for audit purposes in line with local agency procedures.

5.4.6 Planning for when the Child is Located/Returns

See 'Return Interview Procedures for Children Missing from Home or Care' Flowchart.

Where a child has been missing from their care placement, the responsible authority should ensure that plans are in place to respond promptly once the child is located. The responsible local authority must ensure that they have taken full account of the circumstances that led to the child running from their placement to avoid the child being returned to an abusive environment.

Children’s Social Care and Police will co-operate with such plans and should include the following considerations:

  • Will the child return to the previous placement (this may depend on what the child has to say about why she/he went missing)?
  • How will he/she be taken back?
  • Do the Police wish to undertake the Safe and Well Check prior to their return to the placement?
  • Who will be an appropriate person to undertake the Independent Return Interview with the child when she/he is found?

The discussion around planning for the return of the child may consider the powers of the Children’s Social Care and Police to enforce a return if the child resists. This may include, in specific circumstances following consultation with the Children’s Social Care Legal Services, use of a Recovery Order.

When found by the Police the child will not be returned to the residential home/foster placement without reference to the Children’s Social Care plan for returning the child, and a subsequent consultation with their Social Worker or if out of hours the Immediate Help Team.

All relevant parties should be informed of the child’s return, including family, Children’s Social Care/Police (depending on who found the child), and the residential home/foster carer as appropriate.

The Police will undertake a Safe and Well Check as soon as possible after the child returns. Arrangements should also be made for the child to have the opportunity for an Independent Return Interview.


6. Looked After Children Placed Away from their Local Area

6.1 Children Placed out of Hull Children’s Social Care Area

When children are placed by Hull Children’s Services outside of their geographical area, they will apply the practice guidance and procedures of the Local Safeguarding Children Board in the area where the child is placed, providing they meet the requirements of Hull Safeguarding Children Board. It is good practice that when a child is placed out of area and is identified as being at risk of going missing a “Missing Person Action Plan” will be completed. The “Missing Person Risk Assessment” form should then be completed every time they go missing.

It is possible that the child will return to their home area so it is essential that the necessary liaison between the Police and professionals in the area of placement and in the responsible authority is well managed and co-ordinated, so that issues of logistics and/or distance do not delay or interfere in the actions of planning to locate the child.

6.2 Children Placed within Hull Children’s Social Care Area

Many children are placed by other local authorities Children’s Social Care in foster care or residential placements situated within an LSCB area but managed by private providers. It is expected that all providers of foster care or residential care operating within the area covered by the relevant LSCB will have in place practice guidance and procedures to manage incidents of children missing from their care which meet the requirements of the relevant regulations, procedures and practice guidance.

The relevant local authority should inform the private provider how they will meet the roles and responsibilities assigned to Children’s Social Care. All private providers in Hull must comply with Hull Safeguarding Children Board guidelines, procedures and this practice guidance. The private provider will be required to have a “Missing Person Action Plan” when a child is identified as being at risk of going missing. A “Missing Person Risk Assessment” form should be completed every time they go missing.

N.B. The local authority in which a missing child is found is responsible for making safeguarding arrangements for that child.


7. Prevention

Prevention work relating to children going missing requires an integrated multi agency approach to vulnerable children. As such, Hull Safeguarding Children Board expect all agencies working with children who are missing from home or their care placement to implement this practice guidance, ensure that all staff are aware of it and how to use it. In addition, there are a number of strategies which feed into prevention work with children who run away / go missing from home or care these include:


8. Flowcharts and Forms


Further Information

For further information please see:

Amendments to this Chapter

In July 2016, Section 2, Definitions was updated in relation to Unauthorised Absences; this term applies to children or young people who absent themselves for a short period and then return by themselves. They may stay out longer than agreed, either on purpose or unwittingly and although they are absent without permission, their whereabouts is known or thought to be known. Such children may be testing boundaries or staying with friends without permission. This status must be continually reviewed. This category usually relates to children in the care of the Local Authority.

Information on the risks faced by young people who go missing has been added into Section 3, Why Children go Missing and, in Section 5, Action to be Taken, the process used by the Police to assess the risks faced by children or young people who are Missing and categorise them as either ‘high risk’ or medium risk’ has been updated.

End.