A child or young person will be defined as missing if their whereabouts are unknown and there are reasons to believe one or more of the following:
- There are suspicious circumstances, i.e. the person may have been the victim of a serious crime
- The behaviour is out of character and there is no apparent explanation for their absence
- There is significant concern that the young person may have suffered harm
- The young person is thought to be at risk of significant harm during the absence
- The young person is dangerous and there is a significant risk they will harm another person whilst absent
In recent years, well-publicised cases have highlighted the multiple risks and vulnerabilities facing children who go missing from home and care, which includes the risk of child sexual exploitation, drug and alcohol use and becoming involved in perpetrating, or a being a victim of crime. Some 140,000 children go missing from home or care in the UK each year and it has been estimated that running away places around a quarter of these at risk of serious harm. Children and young people who run away may be ‘pushed away’ following abuse or other factors or ‘pulled away’ wanting to be near friends or because they are being exploited by adults.
It is expected that parents and carers will take all reasonable and practicable steps to locate a child missing from home and inform the police without delay. If a child is discovered to be missing and their parent/carer has not reported this to the police, they are strongly encouraged to do immediately.
For Looked After Children the primary carer should report the child missing to the police by calling 101 immediately and advise the local authority of the CAD (Computer-aided dispatch) number and circumstances leading up to the child going missing.
Local Bromley information and protocols
The Bromley Safeguarding Childrens Board are developing our understanding of the local problem profile in Bromley, although there are some key indicators that all professionals and volunteers working with children and young people should be alert to:
Spot The Signs is a handy one page summary for everyone in Bromley
Return Home Interviews
All children and young people who go missing should have a Return Home Interview on their return.
Bromley Return Home Interviews indicate that many of young people who go missing, both Children Looked After (CLA) and from the local community, are mainly affected by peer-on-peer influence (e.g. they go missing in order to see and socialise with friends, go to the local park, drink and smoke (peer-related activities). Return Home Interviews also indicate links between missing incidents and peer gang association; as well as offending behaviours.