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Missing children

Information for missing children

The Runaway Helpline is a national, freephone, confidential service provided by Missing People, which is an independent charity funded by donations.

Phone or text: 116 000

Email:  116000@missingpeople.org.uk

Website:  www.missingpeople.org.uk/

Missing People knows that young people run away for many different reasons. Sometimes it is following an argument, or because of bullying, abuse, unhappiness, or sometimes they just want to get some space.

They won’t judge you or tell you what to do. They can help you talk through what has happened to you and to explore options of how they can help. If you feel you can't call your family or carer yourself, but would like to get a message to someone, they can help with this.

This is a confidential service and they can't trace your calls or e-mails. However, if they think that you are at risk of serious harm, they may need to let someone else know.

Other useful websites are:

Information for parents and carers of missing children

If a child goes missing, contact anyone you think may know their whereabouts.  If you are still concerned, contact your local police by dialling 101.

You don’t have to wait 24 hours before contacting the police.

When is a child considered to be missing?

Every situation is different and there are no set rules about when a child should be considered missing. If in doubt about whether to contact the police to formally report a child missing, for example, when a teenager fails to return home after a time they have agreed, the police will be happy to discuss this with parents or concerned adults and advise about what to do.

If you call them, the police may ask you for their photo, details of their friends or relatives, details of places the person often visits, whether they have a medical condition or other relevant information.

With a relative’s permission, they may also ask to search the person’s home.  The person will be recorded as missing and their details made available to other UK police forces within 48 hours.

When a looked after child goes missing

Children who go missing from local authority care are often extremely vulnerable when they go missing.  Residential care staff and foster carers are caring for the most vulnerable young people who may abscond and place themselves at risk.

The local authority has a duty of care for any child/young person looked after by them under the requirements of the Children Act 1989. This applies to all children and young people, wherever they are placed, irrespective of their age, legal status or previous difficult behaviour. It includes young people over the age of 16 who are accommodated, even if they are considered to be of sufficient maturity to make independent decisions.

The police work in partnership with social care in managing "missing" episodes and it is important that staff in both agencies work together.

Knowing when someone is found

If the police find a person aged under 18, their parent(s) or guardian must be informed of their whereabouts.  If the person is aged over 18, they may not want to get in contact. The police won’t pass on their whereabouts without their permission - but the police will let relatives know that they are safe.

Organisations that help to find missing people

Parents or carers can contact Missing People which offers a lifeline for the 250,000 people who run away and go missing each year. For those left behind, it provides specialised support to end the heartache and confusion. 

116 000 is the number to call for advice, support and options if someone you love goes missing or runs away - it’s free, 24 hour and confidential. This organisation has launched the new 116 000 number in response to the Government’s Missing Children and Adults Strategy.  This number can be called from any country, as it is the European hotline number for missing children.

People missing abroad

If someone goes missing abroad you should contact your local police - they will contact the police force in the relevant country, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office on 020 7008 1500 (ask for ‘Consular Protection’).  If they are missing within certain countries inside Europe, you can call the European hotline number 116 000.

Reporting the sighting of a missing person

If you see a reported missing person, contact the police.  If you want to remain anonymous, you can contact Missing People to report the sighting.

Other useful websites are:

Return interviews – Medway Council

Medway Council works in partnership with the police to ensure the safety of children in Medway - with particular emphasis on children and young people who are reported as missing.

The Medway Children Missing Protocol combines aspects of local authority and police procedures in relation to missing persons such that, where they overlap or interface, respective actions and responsibilities are clear.

Missing persons incidents involving a resident or looked after child of Medway are logged daily and arrangements are made to speak to the child or young person in order to ascertain the reason for the missing episode and to offer support to the child or young person, the aim being to prevent future episodes of going missing.  This is known as a return interview.  It's a separate discussion with the child or young person which is carried out in addition to the police safe and well check. 

Once this has been done, schools are advised if a CAF (Common Assessment Framework) is felt to be appropriate or if a referral is required for in-school support, such as counselling, Medway Youth Trust or peer mentoring.  The school, family or appropriate agency is advised if it is felt that a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS ) or Care and Duty Service (CADS) referral is required.

The parents or child can also be signposted to other local services, such as Open Road (Young Person’s Drug and Alcohol Service), The Onside Project (a service which offers a confidential range of emotional support for young people aged 11–16 who attend schools in the Medway area), help with parenting or other family support.  Information is shared with other agencies under the relevant information-sharing protocol.

The work with children and young people who are not already known to Social Care has meant that support can be given to the young people before matters deteriorate.

How to contact the Missing Children Co-ordinator

Phone: 01634 306000

Email: info@medway.gov.uk

Write to:

The Missing Children Co-ordinator

Gun Wharf

Dock Road

Chatham, ME4 4TR