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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
The Missing Children Co-ordinator