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5.6 Children and Families who go Missing

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter provides additional procedures to be followed where a child and his or her family go missing where there are already child protection concerns about them.

It does not apply to children missing from an education setting; for the relevant procedure in this situation, please seeĀ Missing Children Protocol.

RELATED GUIDANCE

Children Who Run Away or Go Missing from Home or Care Strategy (April 2015)

Please also see 'Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities on Children Who Run Away or Go Missing from Home or Care'

AMENDMENT

In August 2015, a link was added to Children Who Run Away or Go Missing from Home or Care Strategy (April 2015).


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Children who are the Subject of a Child Protection Plan who go Missing
  3. Children who are Subject of Section 47 Enquiries and go Missing


1. Introduction

Agencies and professionals should bear in mind that, when working with children and families where there are outstanding concerns about the children's safety or welfare, a series of missed appointments may indicate that the family have moved from their address, out of the local authority area or out of the country. Children's Social Care or the Police should be informed immediately where such concerns arise.

Where there is concern that a child may be taken out of the country, Children's Social Care and the Police should consider legal advice regarding appropriate legal action that can be taken to prevent the child being taken out of the country.

In the case of children already taken out of the country Children's Social Care or the Police should consider making contact with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and their agency counter parts overseas.


2. Children who are the Subject of a Child Protection Plan who go Missing

Any professional who is concerned that a child who is subject of a Child Protection Plan is missing from where they should be living, should inform the Lead Social Worker immediately.

The Lead Social Worker should make efforts to locate the child in liaison with other agencies and family members. If the child is not immediately located the Police should be informed within 24 hours of the original report.

If the child remains missing for a further 48 hours, a Child Protection Conference must be convened immediately. In exceptional circumstances, or when a weekend would otherwise prolong this timescale, a Conference will need to be convened earlier.

The Child Protection Conference will be concerned with the circumstances of the child going missing and the action to be taken. It will consider what steps should be taken to trace the child, including the options of informing other local authorities, and making appeals to the public via the media where appropriate.


3. Children who are Subject of Section 47 Enquiries and go Missing

Where Children's Social Care are undertaking a Section 47 Enquiry in relation to a child, or have reason to believe that a child is suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm and are at the point of initiating Section 47 Enquiries, either as a result of a new referral to Children's Social Care, or as a result of concerns which emerge during the course of professional involvement, and the child goes missing with or without family members, the allocated social worker must:

  • Make efforts to locate the child in liaison with other agencies and family members;
  • Inform the appropriate Police Family Crime Investigation Unit of the circumstances of the child going missing (where a Strategy Discussion has already taken place the social worker should ensure that the officer involved in the Strategy Discussion is made aware of the child going missing);
  • Inform the Safeguarding and Reviewing Unit.

If the child remains missing for a further 48 hours, the Safeguarding and Reviewing Unit should immediately convene a Strategy Meeting to be chaired by a Safeguarding Officer. In exceptional circumstances, or when a weekend would otherwise prolong this timescale, a Strategy Meeting will need to be convened earlier.

The Strategy Meeting will be concerned with the circumstances of the child going missing and the action to be taken.

The Strategy Meeting will consider what steps should be taken to trace the child, including the options of informing other local authorities, and, via NHS alert systems, making appeals to the public via the media where appropriate.

Any referral where there is an indication that a child may be suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm should not be closed until Section 47 Enquiries have been satisfactorily completed or until there is agreement with another local authority that the Section 47 Enquiries will be undertaken by that authority, including circumstances where the family is missing.

End