Joint Protocol Warwickshire Children Missing from Home, Care & Education Protocol - Procedures Online

Joint Protocol
           Warwickshire Children Missing from
           Home, Care & Education Protocol

Updated 01.12.2017.
Next review on 01.12.2019.


          1. Introduction                                                        4

          2. Background                                                          5

          3. Definitions                                                         6

          4. Principle and scope                                                 7

          5. Partnership Working                                                 9

          6. Identifying a Missing Child                                   10
              Initial action
              Failure to report a child missing
              Role of Police
              Information to be provided to Police when reporting a child

          7. Missing children investigations                                     15

          8. Publicity and media strategy                                        17

          9. Local and return of missing children                                18
              Safe and well check
              Independent return interview

          10. Multi-Agency Review of Missing Children                            22
               Missing intervention meetings
               Escalation system of intervention, chairing and responsibility
               Strategy Meeting
               Direct work from Missing Children’s Practitioner
               Monitoring and oversight of missing children and young people

          11. Proactive Management of Missing Children                           25
              Responsibilities in relation to Children Looked After
              Risk Assessment
              Organised activity providers
              Foster Carers and residential care providers
              Responsible Local Authority
              Host Local Authority
              Children unaccompanied and trafficked from abroad
              Absconder

          12. Trafficking                                                        30

Updated 01.12.2017.
Next review on 01.12.2019.
13. Roles and responsibilities                                           30
              Police powers
              The Local Authority
              Healthcare professionals
              The role of out of hours response

          14. Ofsted: Disclosure to Police and notification of serious incidents   33

          15. Recording and sharing of information                                 33

          16. Children who are not found                                           34

          17. Prevention Strategy                                                  35

          18. Safeguarding children missing from education                         36
               Overview of risks and definition
               Required actions

          19. Contact Information                                                  38
          20. Appendices

          Appendices for Multi-agency partner agencies
                Appendix 1: Missing children from home and care process
                Appendix 2a: Children missing education from other Local
                 Authorities process map
                Appendix 2b: Children missing education from Warwickshire
                 process map
                Appendix 3a: Children missing early years education best
                Appendix 3b: Children missing early years education protocol

Updated 01.12.2017.
Next review on 01.12.2019.
1.    Introduction

1.1   This protocol is important for the safeguarding of Children & Families across
      Warwickshire, or those using services in the area. It should be read and
      implemented, where necessary, by all practitioners and managers working
      with children or young people who are at risk of going missing or have already
      gone missing from home, care or education.

1.2   It is intended that this protocol will assist in developing robust responses to
      running away, which mirror the good practice already established across
      Warwickshire with regards to children and young people (hereafter referred to
      as 'children') at risk of sexual exploitation and trafficking. For the purposes of
      this document a child is anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday.

1.3   It should be used to engage partner agencies in developing preventative
      services for children and young people who are at risk of running away.

1.4   Warwickshire Police, Warwickshire County Council, and the Warwickshire
      Safeguarding Children Board have written it jointly, with contribution from
      Barnardo’s. The first protocol was agreed in 2012 and this version has been
      updated in 2017 to reflect the developments in practice, research and
      legislation. The procedure has been developed in accordance with the
      statutory Guidance on Children who Runaway or Go Missing from Home or
      Care (2014), Department for Education.

1.5   The Safeguarding Children Board will be responsible for ensuring an annual
      review of the effectiveness of all aspects of the protocol.

1.6   The most effective assessment and support comes through good information
      sharing, joint assessments of need, joint planning, and professional trust within
      the interagency network and joint action in partnership with families.

1.7   Warwickshire Safeguarding Children Board expects all agencies working with
      children or young people who are missing from home, care or education to
      implement this protocol and ensure that all relevant staff are aware of it and
      how to use it.

      Updated 01.12.2017.
      Next review on 01.12.2019.
2.    Background

2.1   In 2016-2017, there were 1621 missing children episodes in Warwickshire.
      The Warwickshire Safeguarding Children Board have placed missing children,
      along with child sexual exploitation and trafficking, as a key priority. The
      Warwickshire missing, exploited and trafficked strategy 2017-2020 sets an
      ambitious agenda, which includes reducing the number of missing episodes by
      40% by 2020.

2.2   There are a number of reasons why children may go missing, usually referred
      to as the “push and pull” factors. Academic research shows that children who
      go missing are often very vulnerable. Children may go missing for a number of
      different reasons including arguments and conflicts, poor family relationships,
      physical, emotional or sexual abuse, behaviour or boundaries and control.
      Some children might be coerced or groomed to go missing by others who
      wish to exploit them.

2.3   There a number of immediate risks associated with going missing, which could

          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 education
          Sexual and financial exploitation as a result of trafficking

2.4   In addition, evidence from across the UK and from missing episodes that
      occur in Warwickshire, children are at significant risk when missing of:

          Child sexual exploitation
          Trafficking
          Modern Day Slavery
          Long-term drug dependency/alcohol dependency
          Homelessness
          Disengagement from education
          Poor physical and/or mental health

2.5   All cases of child sexual exploitation in Warwickshire also have an element of
      children going missing; some of these missing episodes may be reported or
      unreported. Intelligence gathered from children who have been missing has
      been essential in initiating safeguarding provisions for children and/or Police
      Updated 01.12.2017.
      Next review on 01.12.2019.
investigations. Therefore, the risk of child sexual exploitation to children who
      are missing is significant. It is always a possibility that a child may have
      experienced abuse or grooming whilst missing or potentially been a victim of
      trafficking. Particularly where children go missing repeatedly, a rapid and an
      effective response is required to locate the child and to ensure support and
      intervention occurs to reduce and stop the missing episodes.

3.    Definitions

3.1   The College of Policing APP defines missing as:

      “Anyone whose whereabouts cannot be established will be considered as
      missing until located and their well-being or otherwise confirmed. 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.”

3.2   In addition, and for the purposes of this guidance, any child whose
      whereabouts are known but who is not at their placement (unauthorised
      absence) or place they are expected to be AND the parents/carers have
      concerns about risk or vulnerability, should be treated as missing and reported
      to the Police in the same way.

3.3   The following definitions apply to this protocol and relate to children who run
      away or go missing from home, care or education.

          Child: anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday. ‘Children’ and
           ‘young people’ are used throughout this guidance to refer to anyone
           under the age of 18.
          Young runaway: a child who has run away from their home or care
           placement, or who feels they have been forced or lured to leave.
          Missing child: a child reported as missing to the Police by their family or
          Child Looked After: a child who is looked after by a Local Authority by
           reason of a care order, or being accommodated under section 20 of the
           Children Act 1989.
          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 out of the responsible Local Authority’s area.
          Care leaver: an eligible, relevant or former relevant child as defined by
           the Children Act 1989.
          Away from placement without authorisation: a Looked After Child
           whose whereabouts are known but who is not at their placement or place

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      Next review on 01.12.2019.
they are expected to be and the carer has concerns, or the incident has
           been notified to the Local Authority or the Police.
          Parent: The parents, friends, relatives, or those providing private
           fostering arrangements who look after the child at their current place of
          Carer: The care provider who has delegated responsibility by the Local
           Authority and those with parental responsibility for the child to act in ‘loco
          Unaccompanied children from overseas: Children who travel from
           abroad and are found without parents who live in the UK.
          Children Missing From Education: Children missing from education
           are defined as children of compulsory school age who are not on a
           school roll, and are not receiving a suitable education otherwise than at
           school, for example by being electively educated at home or in alternative

4.    Principles and scope

4.1   The purpose of the protocol is to assist agencies and practitioners from all
      agencies to develop robust responses to children who run away or go missing.
      The following safeguarding principles should be adopted by Warwickshire
      LSCB and its partner agencies in relation to identifying and locating children
      who go missing:

          Every missing episode is potentially serious.
          The safety and welfare of the child/young person is paramount.
          Locating and returning the child to a safe environment is the main
          Where known information is minimal, the risk cannot be accurately
           assessed without active investigation. It does not mean low or no risk;
           appropriate lines of enquiry should be set to gather the required
           information to inform the risk assessment.
          The fact that the child or young person may have gone missing on a
           number of previous occasions does not reduce the risk. In fact, children
           or young people who repeatedly go missing may be being enticed away
           from their placement by risky activities that they see as exciting or by
           predatory influences and, as such, the risk is increased. Furthermore,
           short absences may be as risky as lengthy ones.
          The length of time a child has been missing should be a contributory
           factor to the assessment of risk.
          Understanding the circumstances of the child/young person going
           missing and seeking to reduce the risk of further episodes. Interventions
           are important in attempting to address repeat missing episodes. They

      Updated 01.12.2017.
      Next review on 01.12.2019.
must be informed by effective return interviews, multi-agency risk
           assessments and reflected as SMART actions in the child’s Care Plan.
          A child or young person's concerns will be taken seriously; they should
           feel heard.
          Interventions are important in attempting to address repeat missing
           episodes. Interventions for Children Looked After must be informed by
           and reflected in the placement information record and in the Care Plan
           for children in care. Interventions must also be informed by effective
           return interviews. Children’s views and concerns will be taken seriously.
          All professionals need to be careful not to label young people despite
           challenging and/or criminal behaviour the young person is involved in.
           The starting point should always be that young people who go missing
           are in potentially dangerous situations because of complex push and pull
          All professionals will be mindful to give careful consideration to address
           equality issues in relation to ethnicity, religion, gender, disability and
           sexual orientation.
          It is important that any relevant information obtained is shared with all
           partner agencies, to ensure effective future safeguarding. Information
           and intelligence should be shared via local processes with the host and
           home Local Authorities and the Police.
          Warwickshire will undertake Return Home Interviews for all children
           placed in its area, free of charge. We expect Children Looked After
           placed in other Local Authority areas to receive Return Home Interviews
           also free of charge. Warwickshire County Council will not agree to pay for
           these services and expect this principle to be replicated by other Local
           Authorities. Where this is not the case, this will be challenged by the
           Service Manager for lead responsibility for missing children and
           arrangements made to ensure a Return Home Interview is conducted.

4.2   The aim of the protocol is:

          To reduce the incidence of all children going missing and the risks
           associated with children who go missing;
          To prevent the missing child suffering harm and to recover the child to
           safety as soon as possible. We do this by partnership working,
           information sharing, and problem solving and performance management.

      Updated 01.12.2017.
      Next review on 01.12.2019.
4.3   The protocol is designed for:

          All children living within the boundaries of Warwickshire.
          Children Looked After by the Local Authority placed within children’s
           homes, supported accommodation or foster homes within the Local
           Authority boundaries.
          Children Looked After by the Local Authority who are living with parents
           or relatives and who are subject of a care order.
          Children Looked After by the Local Authority placed outside of
           Warwickshire. The Local Authority retains responsibility for Children
           Looked After and placed outside the Local Authority boundaries. In these
           cases the Local Authority will require the placement provider to comply
           with these protocols and protocols local to their area. Other Local
           Authorities placing children within 'the Local Authority' boundary will be
           required to comply with these protocols.

4.4   Within this context, “Children Looked After” refers to children accommodated
      under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989, children subject to Care Orders
      including Interim Care Orders and Emergency Protection Orders, Section 31,
      38 and 44 Children Act 1989, and children who are otherwise provided with
      accommodation via Section 21 Children Act 1989.

4.5   These include PACE transfers, children on remand and children subject of a
      supervision order with a residence requirement.

4.6   In addition the protocol will apply to all young people placed within the county
      or Local Authority boundaries (including those aged over 18) for whom
      Warwickshire County Council has continuing responsibilities under The
      Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000.

5.    Partnership Working

5.1   A key strength within Warwickshire is the partnership working by statutory
      and voluntary sector. This enables a responsive service to ensure the needs
      of children and their parents or carers are met.

5.2   The delivery of services for missing children from home and care is led by
      the Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), Missing and Trafficking Team. However,
      only through all agencies continuing to work together to share information will
      children receive an effective response.

5.3   It is agreed that Warwickshire County Council will report a child missing to the
      Police according to this protocol. Warwickshire Police will also receive and

      Updated 01.12.2017.
      Next review on 01.12.2019.
record reports of children missing from home or care. Warwickshire Police
      ensure all under 18’s reported missing are notified to Warwickshire Children's
      and Families Business Unit on a daily basis. The missing episodes are sent to
      the Missing Team for further follow up and a Return Home Interview is offered
      to the child.

5.4   In regards to children missing education, schools will report children missing
      education to the County Council, Children Missing Education Team who will
      share information as necessary with the Police, the Multi-Agency
      Safeguarding Hub (MASH) and Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), Missing and
      Trafficking Team, as necessary. For children in the Early Years settings (non-
      statutory school age), Warwickshire has a best practice guidance in place.
      This has been developed in line with the statutory guidance for Local
      Authorities on Children Missing Education (DfE 2016). See appendices.

5.5   The County Council and the Police will monitor compliance with the protocol
      and monitor outcomes jointly via quarterly joint performance reports reporting
      to the Warwickshire Children’s Safeguarding Board.

6.    Identifying a Missing Child

6.1   In the event that a child cannot be located but the parent/carer has any
      concern about their whereabouts or safety or child may pose a risk to others,
      there should be no delay in calling the Police and reporting the child as

      Initial Action
6.2   When a child is missing, the parents or carers should make reasonable efforts
      to locate the child before calling the Police. Parents and carers should
      complete the following tasks outlined below prior to calling the Police, unless
      there is a reasonable belief that the child is at risk of harm or is especially
      vulnerable. Parents or carers may need Police support if they are very
      distressed or otherwise unable to undertake enquiries.

6.3   In the event that a child cannot be located, and where it is safe to do so, basic
      steps taken to locate and establish wellbeing might include:

          Search the bedroom/house/outbuildings/vehicles.
          Contact known friends and relatives where the child may be.
          Visit locations that the child is known to frequent.
          Attempt to contact the child on the telephone, via text or social media.
          If applicable checking with the school, college, other education provider
           or work placement.

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      Next review on 01.12.2019.
   If the child is looked after make appropriate enquiries with the child’s
           parents and other relatives, make appropriate enquiries with other
           residential homes, Foster Carers, residential schools and make enquiries
           with other carers and professionals who have been involved with the

      Failure to report a child missing
       a. Failure to report a missing child to the Police by those with parental
           responsibility or delegated responsibility could be considered as a
           safeguarding concern which may need further assessment.
       b. Anyone who has care of a child in a location unknown to those with
           parental responsibility should also do what is reasonable to safeguard
           and promote the child’s welfare. They should inform the Police, Children
           & Families, and the parents of their whereabouts and safety. If this is not
           complied with, the Police should consider advice or warning under the
           Child Abduction Act 1984, if it is appropriate.

6.5   Where it comes to the attention of any agency that a child is missing, they
      must advise the parent/carer of their need to report this matter to the Police.
      They also need to advise the parent of the agency’s duty to ensure that the
      matter is reported to the Police and if necessary follow this up by contacting
      the Police to verify that the child has been reported missing.

6.6   Any adult who has care of a child in a location unknown to those with parental
      responsibility should also do what is reasonable to safeguard and promote the
      child’s welfare. They should inform the Police, Children & Families, and the
      parents of their whereabouts and safety. If this is not complied with, the Police
      should consider advice or warning under the Child Abduction Act 1984, if it is

6.7   Anyone who ‘takes or detains’ a runaway under 16 years old without lawful
      authority may be prosecuted under Section 2 of the Child Abduction Act 1984.
      The Police may formally warn a person under the abduction legislation prior to
      prosecution and a subsequent marker may be placed against them on their
      Police National Computer (PNC) record.

6.8   Children under the age of 16 years old are not legally considered as being
      able to live independently. For children over the age of 16 years old,
      consideration should be given by all agencies coming in contact with them as
      to their legal status and physical and emotional needs when making a
      judgment as to whether they can live independently.

      Updated 01.12.2017.
      Next review on 01.12.2019.
Role of Police
6.9    The Police force, as the lead agency for investigating and finding missing
       children, will respond to children and young people going missing (or
       absent) based on on-going risk assessments and in line with current guidance.

6.10 On receiving a report of a child being missing from home, the Police will carry
     out enquiries (which are proportionate to the perceived risk determined by the
     Police on the basis of information provided to them at the time of reporting
     the child missing and in line with the history) aimed at locating the child as
     soon as possible. Detailed and accurate information must be recorded about
     the circumstances and the reasons for making the report. This will ensure that
     the correct level of risk is assessed and appropriate Police action prioritised.

6.11   An immediate risk assessment will be made on the basis of the questions
       asked by the call handler. In preparation, the person making the report should

           The circumstances around being unable to locate the child.
           The age, basic details and description (including last known clothing).
           The legal status and who holds parental responsibility.
           The maturity of the child or young person.
           The possible reasons for the child going missing and their likely
           Whether the child is running from or to anything.
           Medical needs or need for urgent or ongoing medical treatment.
           Whether they use or are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
           The influence of peer groups/family.
           Patterns of criminality or offending.
           Any learning or physical disability of the child.
           Environmental factors such as weather, time of year, community events
            or tensions.
           Any known risk of abduction.
           Danger posed by the child to themselves and others.
           General vulnerability of the child.
           Predatory influences on the child including others wanting to use them for
            crime, sex or drugs.
           Previous behaviour and history of the child especially regarding reported
            or unreported missing episodes, including number and the duration.
           Possible or actual vulnerability to trafficking, human slavery or

       Updated 01.12.2017.
       Next review on 01.12.2019.
6.12   A risk assessment will be carried out for each individual on every separate
       occasion they are reported missing to the Police. This risk assessment,
       usually conducted by the Initial Investigating Officer and subsequently
       confirmed or revised by a supervising officer, will form the basis for the
       subsequent investigation into the child’s disappearance. Children and young
       people reported as missing will not be classed as low risk.

6.13   Where a child is not known to the Police or there is limited information
       available, a joint assessment should be undertaken with multi-agency partners
       at the earliest opportunity to inform a review of the risk level. Children and
       young people reported as missing will not be classed as low risk. Risk
       levels can only be reduced following review of new information to ensure that
       there is no delay in safely locating the child at the earliest possible time.

6.14   As a guide, the Police authorised professional practice states risks should be
       graded as detailed within the table below:

        Level of risk    Definition               Actions required
        No apparent risk There is no              Actions to locate the subject and/or
        (absent)         apparent risk of         gather further information should be
                         harm to either the       agreed with the informant and a latest
                         subject or the           review time set to reassess the risk.
        Low risk         The risk of harm       Proportionate enquiries should be
                         to the subject or      carried out to ensure that the individual
                         the public is          has not come to harm. There is no
                         assessed as            apparent risk of danger to either the
                         possible but           subject or the public. In Warwickshire,
                         minimal.               NO child aged 15 or under is ever
                                                considered to be at low risk. 16 and 17
                                                year olds rarely could be classed as
                                                low risk.
        Medium risk          The risk of harm   This category requires an active and
                             to the subject or  measured response by the Police and
                             the public is      other agencies in order to trace the
                             assessed as likely missing person and support the person
                             but not serious.   reporting.

        High risk            The risk of          This category almost always requires
                             serious harm to      the immediate deployment of Police
                             the subject or the   resources – action may be delayed in
                             public is            exceptional circumstances, such as
                             assessed as very     searching water or forested areas

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likely.          during hours of darkness. A member of
                                              the senior management team must be
                                              involved in the examination of initial
                                              lines of enquiry and approval of
                                              appropriate staffing levels. Such cases
                                              should lead to the appointment of an
                                              Investigating Officer (IO) and possibly
                                              an SIO, and a Police search adviser
                                              There should be a media strategy
                                              and/or close contact with outside
                                              agencies. Family support should be
                                              put in place where appropriate.
                                              Children & Families must also be
                                              notified immediately if the person is
                                              under 18.

6.15   Children who have gone missing may come to the attention of the Police in a
       variety of circumstances. Where the Police locate a child who they believe
       may be missing, although not officially reported, assessment and enquiries
       based on the child's account of the circumstances will be made. These should
       include checks of Police systems as well as enquiries at the home address. In
       the event that a missing child has not been reported by parents/carers, this
       should trigger further proportionate enquiries and assessment by the Police
       and other relevant agencies in accordance with safeguarding procedures.

6.16   If enquiries identify risk factors at the home address, safeguarding procedures
       will be implemented. If the Police decide not to return the child to the home
       address, options should be discussed with Children & Families to identify
       suitable responsible adult(s) and/or accommodation. This includes the
       Emergency Duty Team being contacted after hours. The Police ICT systems
       should also be checked.

       Information to be provided to Police when reporting a child missing
6.17   When reporting a missing child to the Police, the person making the referral
       should provide to the Police as much information as possible. The minimum
       information that must be provided is:
           Name of the person missing, including aliases, nicknames
           Age and date of birth
           Description of the person, including gender and ethnicity
           Description of missing person's appearance, including clothing
           The last known location of the person
           A recent photograph of the child in all cases where the child is looked
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6.18   If possible, a recent photograph should also be provided for children who are
       open to Children & Families. Before photographs can be used in missing
       enquiries, permission from those with parental responsibility must be sought or
       from the Children & Families Service Manager where the child is looked after.

6.19   Information to be provided to Police, wherever possible when reporting
          The child's legal status including any bail conditions or court orders
             regarding residence
          Immigration status
          Home address
          Location missing from if different from above
          Mobile phone numbers of missing person
          Vehicles or transport used by missing person
          Access to money and details of cash cards
          Details of medication and any illness
          Address of GP and Dentist
          Circumstances of going missing
          Whether the behaviour is out of character
          Cultural issues to consider e.g. possible honour crime
          Has this happened before and details of previous incidents
          Name, address and telephone number of person reporting
          Details of any known acquaintances
          Details of any searched and enquiries already carried out
          Identify dangers in the immediate vicinity especially for vulnerable young
             missing persons e.g. ponds, rivers

7.     Missing Children Investigations

7.1    When receiving a report of a missing child, the Police will carry out a risk
       assessment and classify the child as either missing or absent. This frames the
       Police response to the incident. A new risk assessment will be carried out on
       each occasion that a child goes missing.

7.2    Where a child has been classified as absent, parents and carers should
       ensure that any new information is shared with the Police. The Police will
       regularly review their classification and will escalate cases where there is an
       increasing concern about the level of risk to a child.

7.3    The Police will notify the children missing team at the earliest opportunity,
       using the COMPACT system.

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       Next review on 01.12.2019.
7.4   When the Police classify a child as missing they will carry out enquiries, which
      are proportionate to the perceived risk, aimed at locating the child as soon as
      possible. The Police will:

          Establish the facts and gather sufficient information about the missing
           person for an effective investigation and informed decision making;
          Where appropriate, consider using the services of interpreters to assist
           information gathering;
          Establish the family composition, history, any previous Police or other
           agency involvement with the family, including previous missing episodes
           that were not reported to the Police;
          Establish the last sighting of the child and the circumstances of the
          Not delay any action required to facilitate the immediate recovery of the
           missing child;
          Seek assistance to complete urgent enquiries where this may be critical
           for the safe return of the missing child;
          Ask for details of any travel pass that child may have, savings accounts,
           and family addresses;
          Confirm known acquaintances and other details that should have been
           given during the initial report;
          Determine any circumstances which might increase the risk to the child;
          Obtain statements from the reporting person and relevant witnesses;
          Obtain a recent photograph. The informant should sign the rear of the
           photograph to endorse its validity, include the name of the missing
           person, date of birth if known and the approximate date the photograph
           was taken;
          Obtain permission for publicity;
          Conduct a thorough search of the place the child is missing from and its
           surroundings. This will be done even if carers have already done so and
           should include all rooms, cupboards and furniture where a person could
           hide or could have been hidden, attics, cellars, outhouses, garages,
           garden, grounds and all vehicles. Any area which is not searched due to
           lack of ready access will be recorded for review by a supervisory officer;
          Need to see and obtain a copy of any Care Orders. This could be helpful
           in determining Police action and powers should the person be traced;
          Provide ‘Information for the Family / Person Reporting’ form to the person
           who is the point of contact for the Police;
          Consider the possibility that the child may have been admitted to hospital
           either unconscious or having given false details. They may also give
           false details if taken into custody.

      Updated 01.12.2017.
      Next review on 01.12.2019.
8. Publicity and Media Strategy

8.1   Publicity appeals can make the missing child feel like someone cares,
      encouraging him or her to reach out to the missing children hotline or family
      members, thereby helping the child return to safety. However, it can be hard
      for a former missing child to put the past behind them because they do not
      have control over their ‘digital footprint’ (images and information that remains
      online); the media continue to keep the story alive years after the fact and
      abducted children can be bullied when they return to school. These risks need
      to be considered when the decision is made to use publicity.

8.2   Before deciding whether to initiate a public appeal, the Police and Children &
      Families need to seek legal advice to ensure that the permission of the Court
      is sought, as required for children in care and subject to ongoing Family Court
      proceedings. If publicity is initiated in these situations without a Court Order,
      this may breach Section 97 Children Act 1989 and the professionals may be in
      contempt of Court. Where children are subject to proceedings within the
      Family Court, legal advice must be obtained and usually an urgent Court
      hearing should be sought before publicity is initiated.

8.3   As the lead agency in the investigation of a missing child, the Police, in
      consultation with Children & Families, will take a lead role in advising the
      media regarding any missing child. The Police will draft a communication plan
      and press statement which will be shared and agreed by the County Council
      Communications Team before it is released. The contact details for the team
      are as follows:

      Warwickshire County Council Marketing and Communications
      Telephone: 01926 413727

8.4   When a child is missing from home, the Police will liaise with the child’s
      parents about informing the press.

8.5   When a child is missing from care, the decisions to inform the media will be
      taken at a senior level by the Police together with the Service Manager of
      Children & Families. The Service Manager will take responsibility in informing
      the Head of Service, the Director of Children & Families, and the County
      Council senior leadership team including the Leader of the Council and the
      Portfolio Holder. The media should only be informed when all inquiries have
      been exhausted and following an updated risk assessment determining the
      level of risk as being high.

      Updated 01.12.2017.
      Next review on 01.12.2019.
8.6   Any publicity will be arranged at a local level, by direction of the Chief
      Inspector, or an appropriate person nominated by them. Parents and Foster
      Carers should always be informed of details being released to the media prior
      to any such release. Where appropriate, this should be carried out through the
      child’s Social Worker.

8.7   The Police will inform the Missing People Charity (
      of all missing children, as, follows:

          Within 3 hours if high risk
          Within 72 hours if medium risk
          Within 72 hours if low risk

      The Police may also utilise the website facility of the International Centre for
      Missing and Exploited Children ( to publicise the need to
      locate a missing child.

8.8   The criteria for launching a Child Rescue Alert are strict so as to ensure the
      public and the media do not become de-sensitised to them. The four criteria,
      all of which MUST be satisfied before an alert is issued, are as follows:

          The child is under 18 years old.
          There is a reasonable belief that the child has been kidnapped or
          There is a reasonable belief that the child is in imminent danger of
           serious harm or death.
          There is sufficient information available to enable the public to assist
           Police in locating the child.

Source: Warwickshire Police Child Rescue Alert Operating Procedures and

9.    Location and Return of Missing Children

9.1   When a missing child is found, their parents and carers must be informed
      immediately. If the child has returned home of their own accord, or is found by
      parents or carers, then they must inform the Police immediately. The Police
      will also notify any other person or agency that has been notified of the
      missing child of the child’s return.

      Updated 01.12.2017.
      Next review on 01.12.2019.
9.2   The Police will notify the Missing Children’s Team of the child/young person’s
      return via the computer system, COMPACT.

9.3   In most circumstances, parents or carers should make arrangements to
      transport the child to their home address, or placement if they have not
      returned of their own accord.

9.4   If a child is found in circumstances that are considered unsafe, the Police can
      consider whether to use their powers to take a child into Police Protection. The
      Police do not have the power to use force to take a child into Police Protection.
      If there are insufficient grounds to instigate Police Protection, or the child does
      not cooperate, then the Police must liaise with Children & Families to agree
      what steps may be appropriate and necessary to safeguard the child. If the
      child is subject to a care order, then the Local Authority should seek legal
      advice and actively consider approaching the courts for a recovery order.

      Safe and well check
9.5   The Police must conduct a safe and well check for all children who are found
      following a missing episode. This will include establishing whether they have
      been a victim of crime, offering any medical attention if required where this has
      not already been established by parent, carers, or other agency professional
      that located the child.

9.6   The safe and well check must be conducted by an appropriately trained Police
      Officer face to face with the child who went missing. The interview seeks to
      establish basic information about the missing episode including where the
      child went, what they did, and who they were with. If the child makes an
      allegation of crime that occurred whilst they were missing or that contributed to
      them running away, the officer will record this allegation and take appropriate

9.7   As part of the safe and well check, the Police are required to advise the young
      person and parent/care or placement that the young person will be offered a
      Return Home Interview (RHI).

9.8   If it is apparent on the return of a child that they have been the victim of a
      crime whilst absent, or that they may be in danger or at risk from any person
      arising out of circumstances that have occurred whilst they were absent, then
      the Police will instigate further enquiries. This is vital for the protection of the
      child and for the speedy recovery of evidence. In such circumstances, the
      missing child's clothing, mobile phone and trace evidence from their body,
      fingernails or hair may be crucial. In cases of actual or suspected sexual
      abuse, the child should be discouraged from washing and immediate advice
      sought from the Police. The Police should advise parent/carers if they become
      Updated 01.12.2017.
      Next review on 01.12.2019.
aware of the location of a scene of any crime committed against the child, or of
       the location of any crucial evidence (i.e. a used condom), they must notify the
       Police without delay. This will enable the Police to take steps to secure and
       preserve evidence.

9.9    Additionally, in matters of sexual exploitation, or any other situation which
       indicates that the child may have been subject to or was at risk of significant
       harm, a referral must be made to the Local Authority in accordance with local
       safeguarding procedures.

       Independent Return Home Interview
9.10   The Return Home Interview (RHI) is triggered by the CSE, Missing and
       Trafficking Team when they receive notification through COMPACT that the
       young person has been found or has returned. The team will allocate a
       Missing Children’s Practitioner (MCP) to undertake the RHI.

9.11   The role of the Missing Children’s Practitioner is to take lead responsibility for
       completion of the RHI, the actions designed to address underlying concerns,
       and identifying the reasons for young people missing from home and
       accommodation. The MCP is independent of both the Police Service and
       Children & Families. The MCP is responsible for conducting
       interviews/assessments with young people and building good quality
       relationships with vulnerable young people and designing an action plan or
       contribute to already existing plan, such as Child In Need, Child Protection
       Plan or to the Care Plan to address those issues. This process will lead to a
       high level of analysis regarding the underlying issues and problems that
       increase the risk of the young person running from home. The MCP will have
       overall responsibility for this process. The child/young person should be
       informed that this facility is available at the Police safe and well check, should
       they wish to talk to someone independent.

9.12   Missing Children’s Practitioners will proactively seek to engage a child or
       young person, contacting them a minimum of three times, usually by three
       different methods (telephone call, text, discussion with parent/carer/school or
       through social media) within 24 hours of receiving the notification. The
       purpose is to engage the young person and arrange a time to meet to
       undertake the Return Home Interview (RHI) within 72 hours of receipt of the
       notification that the child has returned.

9.13   Return Home Interviews should be independent which means the person
       completing them is not involved in the care or case planning for the child.
       Therefore, RHI’s should not be conducted by Social Workers or the care
       provider. Allocated Social Workers and/or Foster Carers cannot refuse a
       Return Home Interview being conducted. If Social Workers and/or Foster
       Updated 01.12.2017.
       Next review on 01.12.2019.
Carers do refuse for a Child Looked After to receive a Return Home Interview,
       this must be escalated to Operations Manager level who should challenge why
       an independent RHI is not agreed. A Return Home Interview must always be
       offered to a child or young person.

9.14   If a parent has refused a Return Home Interview, the Missing Children’s
       Practitioners will explore the reasons for the refusal. If the MCP has
       safeguarding concerns about the child’s welfare or parental capacity, they will
       discuss with the Team Manager for the Missing, CSE and Trafficking Team to
       consider what actions need to be taken. For the children or young person who
       have an allocated Social Worker or an Early Help Single Assessment, this
       information can be shared with the allocated workers to allow further
       assessment and support needs to be considered. For children and young
       people who do not have an allocated worker, a referral to the MASH will need
       to be considered. The reasons for the refusal and further actions will be
       recorded in the RHI.

9.15   The venue of the RHI may be influenced by the wishes and feelings of the
       child or young person. The child can ask to be accompanied by a responsible
       adult of their choosing. If they would like to be accompanied by a responsible
       adult but cannot identify someone who they are happy with to accompany
       them, an advocate should be available to fulfil this role. For children or young
       people whose first language is not English, they must always be offered the
       use of an interpreter.

9.16   Every Return Home Interview should include a plan of action which will be
       authorised by a Team Manager within the CSE, Missing and Trafficking Team.
       The Team Manager will satisfy themselves with the assessment, ensure any
       crimes committed are reported to the Police without delay by the completion of
       a PVP1, and ensure any intelligence is collated. The MCP must follow up and
       ensure if there is an allocated Social Worker that relevant information is
       shared in a timely way and plans agreed. MCP will also ensure that any
       appropriate referral and plan of intervention is initiated; this might include
       initiation of an early help assessment and support, a referral to the Multi-
       Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), advocacy referral, or requests to the
       allocated worker for changes to the Care Plan to support the child e.g. more
       contact with family or increased support at home or in placement.

9.17   All RHI without exception are shared in full with the Police who will ensure the
       information is loaded onto COMPACT. The RHI will also be shared with other
       relevant professionals or agencies, this will include the lead professional for
       the child, school or GP depending on the information shared. Young people
       will be informed at the beginning of the interview process that information is
       shared with other agencies. Where young people disagree with information
       Updated 01.12.2017.
       Next review on 01.12.2019.
being shared, an agreement will be sought with the young person, with Team
       Managers oversight and approval, that the Police will be informed of the young
       person’s wishes. Such situations should be rare and be part of an overall
       strategy of engagement with the young person towards sharing information
       with agencies at an appropriate time in the future.

10.    Multi-Agency Review of Missing Children

10.1   There is a requirement for a multi-agency meeting to be undertaken when
       children or young people have repeatedly been missing or if they have
       remained missing for a significant period of time. The aim of multi-agency
       missing meetings is to consider any ‘push’ or ‘pull’ factors which impact on the
       missing child’s welfare and circumstances. In the case of ‘pull’ factors, it may
       be necessary to target those in the community who harbour the missing
       person or exploit them with regard to crime, trafficking, sex or drugs. It should
       plan for their safe recovery and actions to be taken to safeguard them once
       they are located, including the appropriate placement.

10.2   The criteria to initiate a multi-agency meeting include:

           A child who has gone missing three times in a 90-day period.
           Any case where the risks involved in even a single future missing
            episode are very high.
           Cases where it has been identified that immediate action is necessary to
            ensure the wellbeing of the child/ young person.
           Children and young people are missing for a significant period of time,
            more than 72 hours.
           One individual having between four and six missing episodes in one

10.3   There will be an escalating system of interventions to reduce the likelihood of
       a child repeatedly going missing. Meetings at the higher level should only be
       required for a small number of children considered to be at highest risk. There
       will be some children who go missing repeatedly within a short period of time.
       In these cases, the higher level of intervention will immediately apply.

10.4   The Service Manager with lead responsibility for children who are missing
       should be informed of all children who are missing for more than 72 hours.
       They will inform the Head of Service within Children & Families and Director of
       Children & Families. Within the Police, the Chief Inspector with lead
       responsibility for missing children should be informed of all children who are
       missing for more than 72 hours. They will then inform the Superintendent.
       Senior Officers must satisfy themselves that all necessary actions are being
       taken to locate the child.
       Updated 01.12.2017.
       Next review on 01.12.2019.
Missing Intervention Meetings
10.5   When children or young people have recorded 3 missing episodes within a 90
       day or 3 month period (Stage1), or 5 missing episodes within a 90 day period
       (Stage 2), a Missing Intervention Meeting (MIM) will be convened. This
       meeting is to occur within 5 working days of the last missing episode. It
       remains the responsibility of the allocated Social Worker for the child (if they
       are already open to Children & Families) to initiate this meeting. A reminder
       that the trigger for a meeting has been met will be sent by the CSE, Missing
       and Trafficking Team.

10.6   Where a child is not known to a Social Worker, the Missing Intervention
       Meeting will be initiated and chaired by a Team Manager from the CSE,
       Missing and Trafficking Team.

10.7   Missing Intervention Meetings will include the parents/carer, young person and
       all appropriate professionals who are working with the child or young person. It
       is expected that representatives from education, health and Police are
       included in the meeting. Minutes from the meeting should be taken and
       circulated to all relevant agencies. This should include a plan of intervention to
       support the child and designed to stop further missing episodes. The plan
       should be monitored, usually through Social Work intervention that is already
       in place on a Child In Need, Child Protection, or Child Looked After process, or
       by a lead professional through the Early Help process.

10.8   Some children who do not meet the above trigger points may need a multi-
       agency meeting with a clear Care Plan; therefore, professionals need to use
       their professional judgement.

       Escalating system of intervention, chairing and responsibility
10.9   The first Missing Intervention Meeting will be chaired and managed by a Team
       Manager in Children & Families if they have an allocated Social Worker or
       within the CSE, Missing and Trafficking Team if they are not allocated to
       Children & Families.

10.10 Where a child has continued to go missing and has 6 missing episodes in one
      year or where there is risk around a single episode and/or immediate action is
      necessary to ensure the child’s wellbeing, these intervention meetings should
      be chaired by an Operations Manager from the allocated team.

      Strategy Meeting
10.11 Where a child has been missing for a significant period of time, the first
      Strategy Meeting within 72 hours should be chaired by an Operations
      Manager within Children & Families and attended by a Detective Sergeant
      from the Police. This meeting should be held under the Child Protection
       Updated 01.12.2017.
       Next review on 01.12.2019.
Procedures and takes the form of a Strategy Meeting. Section 47 enquiries
      should be conducted due to concerns regarding the welfare of the child. At
      the meeting, consideration should be given to requesting an NHS alert to flag
      the child as missing.

10.12 If a child continues to be missing, by the 5th day a further Strategy Meeting
      should be initiated and chaired by a Service Manager within Children &
      Families and attended by a Chief Inspector from the Police. This needs to
      occur within 5 days of the Initial Strategy Meeting. In the event that the
      responsible Service Manager cannot chair this meeting, another Service
      Manager can be appointed to manage the meeting. The Service Manager and
      Chief Inspector should continue to hold weekly multi-agency meetings until the
      child is found or until the procedure for children not found (see section 16) is

      Direct work from a Missing Children’s Practitioner
10.13 Where children repeatedly go missing, it is vital that work is completed to fully
      understand the reasons they are continuing to have missing episodes. This
      work should be completed by a professional who has a connection with the
      child and who the child is engaging with. Usually, this work will be completed
      by a Missing Children’s Practitioner. The Warwickshire Safeguarding Children
      Board dictates that an effective and child centred approach is taken to children
      who repeatedly go missing. This means ensuring that practitioners build
      enduring relationships; listening to young people to enable them to trust
      professionals is key to our approach. Young people need stability, continuity,
      and persistence. Therefore, support needs to be flexible and highly intensive.

10.14 Intervention with young people needs to be trauma and abuse informed. Long
      term trauma may be the root cause of young people’s health, mental health or
      behaviour problems. Practitioners need to take a strength based approach to
      focus on building resilience alongside reducing risk.

      Monitoring and oversight of missing children and young people
10.15 It is vital that the local profile of missing young people is understood by all
      professionals and senior officers within all agencies. Information collected /
      known about young people will then be taken (in all cases of missing and
      absent) to monthly multi-agency meetings from which individual young people
      will be routed through the CSE, Missing and Trafficking Operational Group.
      This group will discuss and review the top ten children with the highest missing
      episodes and receive individual reports on progress and work being completed
      with those children and young people. The panel will reach agreement about
      the ongoing necessary support and intervention required.

      Updated 01.12.2017.
      Next review on 01.12.2019.
10.16 An annual report on missing children will be formulated by the Police and
      Children & Families to be presented to the Warwickshire Safeguarding
      Children Board, Children & Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee,
      and the Police and Crime Commissioner. It is vital for senior leaders/officers in
      all organisations to have a comprehensive understanding of the local profile in
      order that they can take action to ensure children who go missing receive a
      robust and proactive response.

10.17 In addition to this, all children who remain missing or are ‘inactive’ missing
      children will be subject to an annual multi-agency review which will include as
      a minimum; the Police Missing Children’s Coordinator and the Service
      Manager for Children & Families responsible for missing children within the
      county council. The aim of this review is to ensure there is no other evidence
      which would suggest the need for further enquiries, and will help to identify
      cases where the children have been located.

11.    Proactive Management of Missing Children

       Responsibilities in relation to Children Looked After
11.1   Each Child Looked After has a Care Plan based upon a full assessment of the
       child’s current and future needs, including potential risk to self or others. This
       must include consideration of the vulnerability and risk of the child becoming
       missing and consider appropriate actions should this occur. Previous missing
       episodes or an identified potential to go missing should trigger a full risk
       assessment on admission to care. All information should be included in the
       placement plan and in the child’s Care Plan; any previous information relevant
       to running episodes should form part of that assessment. As part of this
       assessment, it may be appropriate for the Local Authority to consult with the
       Police to share information that may be of relevance. The placement plan
       should outline clearly the actions required by the Foster Carer in the event that
       the child may be missing.

11.2   Care Plans must be kept under review and should be revised as appropriate.
       As a minimum, they should be reviewed at placement reviews and Looked
       After Reviews. Looked After Reviews are chaired by an Independent
       Reviewing Officer (IRO). The IRO should, therefore, be informed of missing
       and absent episodes and should address these in statutory reviews. Statutory
       reviews provide an opportunity to check that a child’s Care Plan has been
       appropriately amended to address the reasons why they were absent and
       includes a strategy to prevent re-occurrence should the child go missing in
       future. It may be necessary to convene a review to consider whether the
       placement is able to put in place a strategy to minimise any risk to the child, or

       Updated 01.12.2017.
       Next review on 01.12.2019.
whether it may be necessary to look for an alternative placement in order to
       keep the child safe.

11.3   In respect of Children Looked After, a recent photograph bearing a good
       likeness to the child will be kept on record by the Local Authority. When a child
       enters care, the consent of a person with parental responsibility will be sought
       for a photograph to be used in any subsequent missing person investigation.
       If possible, the agreement of the child should also be gained subject to the
       Fraser Guidelines.

11.4 For Children Looked After by the Local Authority placed outside of
     Warwickshire, the Local Authority retains responsibility. In these
     circumstances, the Local Authority will require the placement provider to
     comply with these protocols and protocols local to their area. Other Local
     Authorities placing children within 'the Local Authority' boundary will be
     required to comply with Warwickshire’s protocols. Where the allocated Social
     Worker is made aware that a Child Looked After by Warwickshire and placed
     elsewhere has gone missing, they must inform the Warwickshire CSE, Missing
     and Trafficking Team. The duty Missing Children’s Practitioner will be
     responsible for recording all the details on Mosaic (Children & Families’ records
     system) on a missing episode referral form on each occasion. The Missing
     Children’s Practitioners from Warwickshire will make suitable arrangements for
     an independent Return Home Interview to be conducted. This may include the
     MCP in the Local Authority where the child is placed conducting the interview
     and sharing this with the allocated Social Worker and CSE, Missing and
     Trafficking Team. In some cases, within a reasonable distance and particularly
     where there are repeat missing episodes, the CSE, Missing and Trafficking
     Team will visit and conduct the Return Home Interview themselves.

       Risk Assessment
11.5   Individual risk assessments are an essential part of keeping children safe as
       they enable carers to be clear what the risks are for the particular child and
       any risks they might pose to the public. If there is a high risk of the child
       going missing or a previous history of CSE, missing or trafficking, a risk
       management plan should be in place. This should be completed by the
       Social Worker in conjunction with the Foster Carer or residential home
       staff. Social Workers should complete with Foster Carers and residential
       home staff the Missing Trigger Plan within 5 days of the placement beginning
       to inform their decisions about action to take, and when to inform the Police
       that a child has gone missing. Where children repeatedly go missing, these
       profiles are important to offer an immediate response to a missing episode.
       They also support carers/residential homes as information required by the
       Police regarding the background information and known history of missing
       episodes and placed the child may have gone to can be stored and retrieved
       Updated 01.12.2017.
       Next review on 01.12.2019.
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