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1.3.2 Children Who Run Away or Go Missing/Absent From Home or Care

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter applies to the Bedford Borough Council internal procedures for children who run away or go missing from home or care. These procedures are supplemented by the national statutory guidance and the Bedford Borough Safeguarding Children Board Procedures.

RELATED CHAPTER

Safeguarding Children and Young People from Sexual Exploitation

AMENDMENT

In April 2017, Section 2, Responding to Missing Children Reports was extensively updated and should be read throughout. Section 4, Children Missing Flowchart was also updated.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Responding to Missing Children Reports
  3. Quality Assurance
  4. Children Missing Flowchart


1. Introduction

The Department for Education has issued, ‘Statutory guidance on children who run away or go missing from home or care’ and this is reflected in the Bedford Borough Safeguarding Children Board procedures. This guidance and procedures offer the policy and multi-agency protocols which must be followed for children who go missing.

The links to these documents are as follows:

The above guidance should always be referenced, however, in Children’s Safeguarding; there are more detailed procedures which must be followed. These are as follows.


2. Responding to Missing Children Reports

In Bedford Borough Children’s Services all absences and missing episodes are classified as missing episodes. 

The Police will provide daily notifications of children who have been reported as missing to MASH. MASH will inform the child’s social worker on the same day that the information is received by MASH.

Cases Not Currently Open

MASH will record the alert on the Azeus record and where the child is not known, MASH will consult with the parents to arrange a return interview. MASH will also record a contact and undertake multi-agency checks if appropriate.

The MASH Team Manager will convene a Strategy Meeting if the child/young person has been missing for more than 24 hours and/or the child is also at risk of Child Sexual Exploitation, is engaged in criminal activities or if the child has been hurt or harmed whilst they have been missing. If there are more than two missing episodes and/or there are concerns in relation to the vulnerability of the child then a Single Assessment and a Strategy Meeting should be considered. Other vulnerability factors, such as the age of the child and their capacity should be considerations to trigger either a Strategy Meeting or an assessment, or both.

See also, Safeguarding Children and Young People from Sexual Exploitation.

If required the MASH team will then submit the contact to the Assessment team and the Assessment Team Manager will allocate the case. A Strategy Meeting will then be held within 48 hours but sooner, if concerns for the safety of the young person are urgent. For very young children who have gone missing, the Strategy Meeting should be held urgently, within hours of notification. The Strategy Meeting should ensure that there is a plan to mitigate all identified risks. The Strategy Meeting should also consider whether or not there should be a planned approach to notifying other local authorities that the young person is missing, and to considering using the media to help to find the missing young person.

If a child from another Local Authority is placed in Bedford and goes missing then the MASH will create an alert and contact on the child’s Azeus file. MASH will contact the Home Authority to ensure they are aware that the child has been reported as missing. If MASH believes the concern is not being addressed by the Home Authority then this will be escalated within the Home Authority. There may be occasions when MASH will instigate a Strategy Meeting on these children if immediate safeguarding measures are required.

Open Cases

If the child is currently an open case, once the notification is received by MASH, MASH will record an ‘alert’ on the Azeus record and will inform the child’s social worker and their manager.  MASH will add an action for the pro-forma which will in turn trigger an email to the social worker. The social worker will then record Part A of the ‘missing child/young person/family/unborn baby pro-forma’ as well as a risk assessment.

On all open cases a return interview should be offered for all absent and missing episodes. Consideration should be given to who will be the best person to interview the child/young person and this could range from an independent person in NYAS, to the social worker, the YOS worker or any other practitioner who is known to the child/young person.

Looked After Children

For Looked After Children, when a child has been reported as missing, the parent/carer should report this to the Police and if it is out of hours the carer should also notify EDT.

If the child is looked after, the return interview should be completed by a person independent of the child’s placement either via a referral to NYAS or by the social worker. However, should the looked after child refuse an independent return interview then the social worker should determine who best should undertake the return interview, based upon who the child is most likely to engage with, in the professional network. 

The statutory guidance on return interviews for looked after children should be noted as follows:

An independent return interview should be offered when a missing looked after child is found. Where possible, the child should be given the opportunity to talk before they return to their placement. The person conducting the interview should usually be independent of the child’s placement and of the responsible local authority. An exception maybe where a child has a strong relationship with a carer or social worker and has expressed a preference to talk to them, rather than an independent person, about the reasons they went missing. The child should be offered the option of speaking to an independent representative or advocate. When a looked after child is placed in a host authority, the responsible authority should ensure the independent review interview takes place, working closely with the host authority.

When a child or young person goes missing from a Residential placement, the Placements Manager should be notified who will then request a regulation 44 report from the provider of the placement to ensure that the safeguarding procedures for young people in placement is being followed.

All Children

When a child returns, Part B of the Missing ProForma should be completed and the Missing alert should be ended. Part B should clearly outline what actions have been taken to respond to the missing episode.

A risk assessment should also be completed in all cases and where the level of risk is significant, then a Strategy Meeting should be arranged. The Strategy Meeting should ensure that there is a plan to mitigate all identified risks. The Strategy Meeting should also consider whether or not there should be a planned approach to notifying other local authorities that the young person is missing, and to considering using the media to help to find the missing young person.

The return interview should take place within seventy-two hours of the child returning. The social worker should make every effort to engage the young person in the return interview.

The return interview should be uploaded into the documents section of Azeus. Any intelligence obtained from the return interview or from any follow up work undertaken, should be shared with CSEG, using the intelligence submission form which is obtainable by following the link below:

All incidents of missing episodes must be discussed in supervision.

Notifications To Other Local Authorities

Notifications to other local authorities of a missing young person should be made via the Conference and Reviewing Service, using the Missing Pro-forma Template.

Referrals to NYAS

Any referral for an independent return interview through NYAS should be made by a professional from Bedford Borough Council by either of the following methods:

  • Phone the NYAS free telephone number 0808 808 1001. Please make sure you state that you are asking for a RETURN INTERVIEW; or
  • Complete the NYAS online referral form for professionals at and enter RETURN INTERVIEW in the box 'Reason for meeting/referral'.


3. Quality Assurance

Information will be provided monthly to the Performance and Quality Assurance group on the following:

  • Numbers of times each child who has gone missing, has been missing;
  • For each child, numbers of episodes of 24 hours;
  • Numbers of children who have been missing and found who have been offered a return interview;
  • Numbers of children who have been missing and found who have received a return interview;
  • Numbers of children who have been missing placed in Residential units;
  • Numbers of children who have been missing placed out of Borough;
  • Action taken (Single Assessment, Risk Assessment, Strategy Meeting, Other);
  • Action status (as per Azeus workflow);
  • Where children/young people have been found.


4. Children Missing Flowchart

Click here to view the Children Missing Flowchart.

End