Runaway/missing children protocol

Children often runaway from home/residential care/school, fail to return at the agreed time or go missing in circumstances that give parents/carers/professionals immediate concern for that child’s safety. In any such case these concerns should be reported without delay to the police.

In the event of a child being reported as ‘missing’ to the police, they will undertake enquiries.

Following the initial reporting and information gathering in respect of a missing child, the Duty Inspector will undertake a Risk Assessment, which will inform the level of investigation that will be undertaken. It is essential that this include the gathering of all information held by partner agencies to allow the level of risk to be properly assessed. This information is gathered under the criteria of Child Protection.

This risk assessment is continually reviewed throughout an investigation during which the police will continue to liase with relevant partner agencies to ensure that any new information is gathered to assist this process.

When missing child is traced they will be interviewed by a police officer. The objectives of such an interview are:

      • To determine the reason the child was missing and in particular, if he/she has been subject to violence, abuse or bullying;
      • To establish if he/she has been a victim of a crime before or whilst missing;
      • To establish if he/she has been committing crime whilst missing;
      • To discover where and by whom, he/she may have been harboured;
      • To obtain information, which may lead to his/her early discovery, should he/she go missing again.
      • To put in place any support and preventative measures to avoid such a recurrence

At this time consideration will always be given as to whether or not the circumstances warrant an immediate Child Protection Inter Agency Referral Discussion. This will be progressed by the Duty Inspector or the Detective Sergeant within the Public Protection Unit.

In all cases of missing children being traced in the, the police will submit a referral outlining the circumstances and result of the subsequent police interview to the Reporter/Social Work Services.