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Child missing from home, care and education

Children and young people may be absent from where they should be for many reasons, not least wanting to spend more time with their friends. But if you as a parent or carer don't know where they are they could be at risk of harm and any prolonged or repeated absence can be caused for concern. In such circumstances parents and practitioners need to respond and act on concerns. 

The document below provides details on the procedures when a child goes missing or runs away from a home or care setting:

Greater Manchester Police Missing From Home Procedures

For separate information on exploitation visit the Child Exploitation Information Page

The Salford Missing From Home Service

The Salford missing from home service (MFH Service) is made up of a MFH Practice Manager with a social work background and two full time members from other areas of Childrens Services departments.

Part of the MFH service is to conduct return interviews for young people above 5yrs old and up to the age of 18yrs who have been reported missing to Greater Manchester Police within the Greater Manchester area. 

This will also include young people placed in Salford from other Local Authorities unless there are plans in place for other agencies to do so on behalf of the placing local authority.

Other work of the MFH service includes:

  • Multi agency referrals for additional family support and signpost to disrupt and minimise future missing episodes.
  • Complete MFH Safety plans with young people, their family and professionals.
  • Disrupt possible addresses they frequent when MFH
  • Liaise with other partner agencies such as Housing, Neighbourhood, Managers, CCTV operators.

Tina Balzano –MFH Practice Manager

Michelle Yates – MFH Worker

Alexis Candland– MFH Worker

Andrea Reynolds/ Megan Lynch - MFH Administrators for any general MFH queries.

Click on the links below for more useful information on Children Missing from Home

3 or more times in a 28 day period

If a child is missing 3 or more times in a 28-day period a MFH Meeting must be called.

It should be chaired by a social care team manager or ASW  and attended by representatives from all agencies already involved with the child and a request made via the Missing Person Safeguarding Officer from GMP for police representation at the meeting.
Wherever possible GMP will send a representative, and in some high-risk cases the “Cluster” Missing Person Safeguarding Officer may attend. The provision of historic MFH related information may also be passed by secure email and via telephony.
The purpose of the meeting is to identify any push/pull factors that need tackling, decide jointly on an action plan (or review and existing plan) and identify any services that could provide additional support.

72 hours or more

Statutory guidance requires a MFH Meeting at 72 hours of a child going missing.
It is for each local authority to determine whether this meeting should be earlier, based on risk and vulnerability of the child. 
The chair will be a social care team manager or Independent Reviewing Officer and will include social care, police, education, health and any other relevant agencies.
Actions will be considered such as notifying press communications and the Director of Children’s Services (DCS). Close liaison should be ongoing between partners and relevant agencies.
It will be agreed who will maintain contact with parent/carers (with parental responsibility regardless of whether the child is living within the family unit or not).

5 days or more

If the child is missing for 5 days, a further MFH Meeting will be held and led by a social care Service Manager, linking into to a GMP Command Team review. The Assistant Director and DCS must be informed at this point if not previously. Consideration should be given to inviting the parent/carer, if appropriate.

  • Surname / Forename / Sex
  • Date of Birth
  • Time and place last seen / what are the circumstances leading to the report?
  • What has been done so far to trace this individual?
  • What is the specific concern in this instance?
  • Is this significantly out of character?
  • Are there any specific medical needs?
  • Are they likely to be subjected to crime?
  • Are they likely to be the victim of abuse?
  • Are they currently at risk of Sexual Exploitation?
  • Are they likely to attempt suicide?
  • Do they pose a danger to other people?
  • Is there any other information relevant to their absence?

These enquiries will enable an individual risk assessment to be conducted by the call taker, who will then decide whether the individual is MISSING as Medium or High on a case-by-case basis. 

Note that all children aged 12 and under will automatically be classified as ‘Missing’ .Children with learning disabilities/difficulties should be considered in relation to their level of functioning, not their chronological age.

  • If a young person under 16 (or 18 if in care) the educational authorities will take action to locate the young person by contacting them via phone, searching the grounds, go through CCTV, speak to their peers.
  • If unable to locate the young person they must inform the person or organization with parental responsibility. It is the parent’s / carer’s responsibility then to make their own enquiries before reporting  the young person missing.
  • If the individual is aged over 16 years (over 18 years if in care), the educational authorities may report the individual missing directly to the Police.

The only exceptions to this rule for reporting immediately are:

  • The risk is too high so any delay must be avoided, such as for Very young children , With Special Educational Needs, Disabilities or Highly concerning behaviours

The School will report to the Police under the following circumstances :

  • In cases where the educational establishment cannot get in contact with the person with parental responsibility.
  • If the school has concerns about compromised parenting and/or believes the parents will not report the young person missing in a timely manner.

A multi-agency MFH group panel meets weekly to discuss all the young people who have gone missing with the  aim  to provide oversight and scrutiny to each case so to promptly identify and recommend services for young people and their families and also to explore patterns or hotspots relating to missing that may be causing concern.

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