Multi-Agency Protocol On Children Who Go Missing From Home or Care
All practitioners working with children and young people should read and be aware of the protocol. Please ensure any locol copies of the protocol are deleted and replaced with the updated guidance including the below update.
Revised Missing Children Processes in Northamptonshire
From 16th January 2017 Northamptonshire Police in partnership with Northamptonshire County Council (Safeguarding and Children’s Services’ Senior Management Team - SMT) have agreed to move to the nationally agreed definitions of Missing and Absent Children.
Looked after Children (LAC) will now be managed in the same way as all missing children, using the national missing person definition and assessed on an individual basis.
Northamptonshire Police will adhere to the national definition.
Absent: A person not at a place where they are expected or required to be, and there is no apparent risk (of harm).
Missing: Anyone whose whereabouts cannot be established and where the circumstances are out of character or the context suggests the person may be subject of crime or at risk of harm to themselves or another.
The investigation begins at the point of first notification and reporters of missing children will need to understand their role with having parental responsibility. Looked after children (LAC) currently make up approximately half of all missing children episodes in Northamptonshire.
By reverting to Nationally agreed policy and ceasing to automatically treat LAC as a special case the numbers of missing children in the county are expected to significantly fall.
The current processes of conducting return home interviews for found children following a missing episode have been reviewed. A number of changes are being implemented from 01st February 2017:
• The Initial Response Team will be renamed the Missing Children Team (MCT) to better reflect the work they undertake. They will remain co-located with the Police Missing Person Unit and Reducing Incidents of Sexual Exploitation: RISE (CSE) team at Northamptonshire Police Force headquarters.
• They will no longer automatically undertake IRIs on behalf of other local authorities for children placed in Northamptonshire. The responsibility for these will ordinarily revert to the placing authority in line with their corporate parent responsibility. The MCT will only conduct them in exceptional circumstances where a clear, immediate safeguarding need arises for which they will then seek to charge a fee. This brings Northamptonshire in line with other local authorities.
• The team will commence a 3 month Pilot project to conduct Independent Return Interviews (IRIs) for Northamptonshire Looked After Children placed in neighbouring local authorities. This includes those children placed in Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. This aims to strengthen safeguarding processes for Northamptonshire Looked After Children.
• A revised process chart has been completed to support this. The expectation is that Social Workers contact the MCT at the earliest opportunity when a child is missing and /or found. The email address is MCT@northamptonshire.gov.uk (the IRT inbox will be renamed MCT from 01/2/17).
Last updated: 27 January 2017