Missing children

Professionals should also refer to the IOM Safeguarding Children Procedures here

Most children and young people who go missing return the same day and some incidents involve children and young people who are late home and for whom there are no other concerns. However, very often running away/ going missing could be an indicator of underlying problems which need further enquiries or intervention such as:

  • Problems at home / family conflict
  • Bullying
  • Abuse or neglect
  • Placement issues if Looked After by the Local Authority
  • Wanting to harm themselves
  • Issues at school including exclusion & bullying
  • Pressure from friends/ associates
  • Sexual exploitation/ criminal exploitation/ trafficking
  • Wanting to buy / use alcohol or drugs

Young people who run away may be at risk of significant harm whilst away from home or care placement e.g. those who remain missing overnight or for several days, sleeping rough and in contact with people posing a risk to them.  Young people may also only be missing for a short time period and risk may still be high.

Together with the relevant Departments, Police will lead efforts to locate children who are missing, which includes working closely with Children and Families Services when children are missing from care placements.

When the child is located the Police will carry out an immediate vulnerability check for children who are not looked after (safe and well) to identify any indications that the young person has suffered harm; where and with whom they have been; and to give them an opportunity to disclose any offending by, or against, them.

Police, Children’s Social Care & any agency involved with a child who has run away/ gone missing will share information and where necessary take action to safeguard or offer support to the child and family.

Arrangements will be made for all children who have been missing to have the opportunity to take up a Return Home Interview.  This is an opportunity for a child or young person to share any worries that they might have and also allows professionals to collect information and form a view about any risk a child may be being exposed to.

Often children going missing from education, home or care can be a sign of wider concerns about exploitation or harm. Professionals that are concerned about this should read the guidance on exploitation and refer to the Safeguarding Children Procedures found here.