Local Missing Children Procedure for all Kirklees Looked After Children
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This document contains local procedures in line with the West Yorkshire Joint Protocol for Children Missing from Home or Care. It describes the actions required by Kirklees social workers, foster cares and residential workers when Looked After Children are found to be missing.
For actions in respect of missing children who are not looked after or who are placed in Kirklees by another Local Authority, please see: Local Missing Children Procedure for all Non-LAC Children and Out of Area LAC Living in Kirklees.
AMENDMENTIn January 2017, this guidance was reviewed locally and updated as required.
This protocol outlines Kirklees' response to children and young people who go missing from home and care and provides local procedure in line with the West Yorkshire Joint Protocol for Children Missing from Home and Care.
It is to be used as a required procedure for all professional staff that work with or come into contact with missing children, including those who process and manage information data concerning missing or absent children.
This document cannot anticipate every situation and individual judgement should be used to decide any action that is deemed necessary to protect the safety of the child, based on an assessment of risk. Advice should be sought from managers and safeguarding procedures followed as required.
The children and young people this protocol applies to are;
- All children in care of a private or Local Authority residential provider of foster carer in Kirklees who go missing;
- All children in the care of Kirklees Local Authority placed outside of the borough with a host authority who go missing;
- All young people for whom Kirklees have continuing responsibilities towards as Care Leavers who go missing (up to 21 years of age / 24 years of age - if accessing Higher Education).
2. Police Definitions
This guidance uses the Police definitions of 'Absent' and 'Missing' (Police Interim Guidance on the Management, Recording and Investigation of Missing Persons, April 2013).
Absent - a person not at a place where they are expected or required to be and this is not out of character and there is an apparent explanation on this occasion and the child is expected to return and the child is not expected to suffer or cause harm whilst absent and the level of risk does not justify Police intervention at this time.
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 a crime or at risk of harm to themselves or another.
In Kirklees, the Police send all 'Absent' and 'Missing' notifications to Children's Social Care and each episode is dealt with on its own merit regardless of the Police classification. To this end, all cases of 'Absent' and 'Missing' episodes will be offered an Independent Return Interview and outcomes recorded on the child's electronic file.
Within these definitions, a child whose whereabouts are known would not be treated as either 'Absent' or 'Missing' i.e. children that are away from home or care without authorisation. It is recognised that children that are away from home or care without authorisation may be at risk of harm and agencies should fulfil their responsibilities to safeguard these children in line with existing safeguarding procedures.
Furthermore, the particular vulnerabilities, risk factors and outcomes associated with Looked After Children are well documented and this group of children should always be reported as 'Missing' if their whereabouts are unknown.
If a child has a CSE Risk Classification and she/he is reported missing, the response must be one of priority risk.
3. Looked After Children
Looked After Children missing from their placements are considered to be particularly vulnerable. Recent national studies have identified that children in residential care are at particular risk of going missing and vulnerable to sexual and other exploitation; and that placement instability is a key feature of Looked After Children who run away. Local agencies have particular responsibilities in regards to Looked After Children that are missing from care. A key part of this work is to put plans in place to prevent Looked After Children from going missing.
4. Assessing the Risk of Looked After Children who Run Away
At the point that a placement is agreed, the referral for Residential, Foster Care or Placement with Parent(s) should clearly identify any issues in relation to the child going missing. The child's Social Worker has responsibility for ensuring a 'Missing Risk Assessment' is completed when a child is placed in residential, foster care or commencement of a Placement with Parents arrangement. See Appendix 1: Missing Absent / Risk Assessment Tool. The risk assessment should include identifying the level of risk the child is likely to be subject to whilst missing from placement, as well as the frequency of the likelihood of absconding. Where a child is placed at home subject to a Care Order, it is the responsibility of the child's Social Worker to complete the 'Missing Risk Assessment' alongside the child's parent to be included in the Placement with parent agreement.
Ideally the 'Missing Risk Assessment' will be completed prior to placement. If this is not possible, the risk assessment should be completed within 72 hours for children placed in residential care or within five working days for a child placed in foster care, unless the child is deemed to be at high risk of running away, then it should be available at the point of placement.
It is recognised that in emergency or unplanned placements, the 'Missing Risk Assessment' is unlikely to have been completed within the first 72 hours. However, all available information should be given at the time of placement in order to safeguard the child.
Good practice dictates that all children have a 'Missing Risk Assessment' for every placement.
The 'Missing Risk Assessment' should be reviewed as part of the LAC Review process and following any episode of missing.
One of the major influences of Looked After Children running away is having a sense they are not being listened to and taken seriously, particularly about placement decisions and moves. The child's wishes and feelings regarding placement decisions should be recorded and considered as part of the missing risk assessment. All Looked After Children will be informed about their right to be supported by an independent advocate from the Children's Rights Team and/or by an Independent Visitor (volunteer).
Foster carers, residential workers and parents, are responsible for taking all reasonable steps to prevent children from going missing and placing themselves or others at risk. All Looked After Children should also be provided with information on where they can access help if they consider running away, e.g. from Children's Rights, Complaints, Childline or someone independent from the placement. 'What to Do if you are thinking of Running Away' is a leaflet produced by the Children's Rights Team in Kirklees and is provided to all Looked After Children in residential and foster care placements. It provides emergency telephone numbers and helplines for children to access if they want to talk to someone independently.
Evidence suggests that distance from home, family and friends are a key factor for Looked After Children running away. Any decision to place a child at distance should be based on an assessment of the child's needs including their need to be effectively safeguarded. External residential placements should only be considered where there is evidence the child must remain Looked After and the child's needs cannot be met within local resources.
4.1 Police Risk Levels
Under Police classifications, 'Low Risk' is given to children who are classified as being 'Absent'. Looked After Children in Kirklees should always be reported as 'Missing' if their whereabouts are unknown and they cannot be contacted:
- Medium: The risk posed is likely to place the child in danger or she/he is a threat to themselves or others. The response for this category requires an active and measured one by the Police and other agencies in order to trace the missing child and support the reporting person (parent/carer);
- High: The risk posed is immediate and there are substantial grounds for believing the child is in danger through their own vulnerability; or she/he may have been the victim of a serious crime; or the risk posed is immediate and there are substantial grounds for believing the public is in danger. This category requires the immediate deployment of Police resources.
4.2 Care Leavers
Care leavers may be particularly vulnerable to going missing. Care leavers are required to live in suitable accommodation and any risk assessment should take account of whether care leavers feel safe in their accommodation and the area where it is located. Pathway Plans will set out where a young person may be vulnerable to exploitation, trafficking or going missing, and put in place support services to minimise this risk.
Two recent photographs of the young person (face and full body length) should be sought by the parent/carer/residential unit to be included in the 'Missing Risk Assessment' and provided to the Police should the child subsequently go missing. Copies of the photographs should also be held on the child's electronic file. Digital photographs are preferable and should be regularly updated. If an appropriate photograph is not provided when the child is initially placed, then permission should be sought from the parent and child to taking a photograph for the purpose of safeguarding the child, including providing this to the Police if the child goes missing. In the case of a child where it is has been identified there might be a likely risk of going missing, the child's Social Worker will discuss with the child why consent for using photographs for these purposes is important to ensure their safety.
If such photographs are obtained post-placement, careful consideration should be given as to how these are taken so as not to stigmatise the child. Unless it is in the best interests of the welfare of the child, the photographs should not be used for any other purpose without the child's and parents' consent. If a parent or child does not provide consent and there is a concern the child may go missing, the child's Social Worker should seek advice from their manager with regard to the taking and use of a photograph. It may be that legal advice is sought in this regard.
4.4 Care Planning and Review
Where the 'Missing Risk Assessment' has determined a child may be at risk of going missing, the Care Plan will include a strategy to minimise these risks and actions to be taken in the event that the child goes missing from care. This will include information about the responsibilities of all services and should be discussed and agreed with the child and the child's carers. Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs) should be informed about missing and 'Away from Placement without Authorisation' episodes. These episodes should be addressed in statutory reviews.
Consideration must be given to convening the LAC Review earlier than scheduled in order to discuss the Missing Risk Management Plan. The LAC Social Worker should contact the Independent Reviewing Officer within 72 hours to discuss this after any significant missing episode/s.
4.5 Out of Area Placements
Kirklees Looked After Children who are placed out of area must have access to the services they need. For those children that are deemed to be at risk of going missing, the allocated LAC Social Worker should establish a notification process with the host authority to ensure that, in the event of missing episodes, liaison between professionals in both authorities is well managed and co-ordinated. The Early Intervention and Targeted Support Service (EITS) should aim to offer all Kirklees out of area Looked After Children an Independent Return Interview, or make arrangements with the allocated LAC Social Worker for the host authority to carry this out. This can be negotiated and agreed at the Placement Planning Meeting.
4.6 Children's Home Staff and Foster Carers
Residential staff and foster carers should be proactive about strategies to prevent children from going missing and should be familiar with the procedures that must be followed if a child goes missing. The competence and support needs of residential staff and foster carers in responding to missing from care issues will be considered as part of their appraisal and supervision.
In line with the Quality Standards for Children's Homes and Fostering National Minimum Standards, care providers will take into account the care needs of the children who rely on their services and take steps to minimise the likelihood that children will run away from their placements i.e. protect children from abuse and neglect, counter bullying, promote leisure opportunities, privacy and confidentiality, access to advocacy, and maintenance of familial contact.
Children's homes should have explicit procedures in place both to prevent children going missing and to take action if they do go missing.
5. LAC 'Away from Placement without Authorisation'
'Away from Placement Without Authorisation' or 'Unauthorised Absences' are occasions when the child's location is known and they are contactable. If a child indicates they propose to leave the placement without permission, foster carers, residential workers and parents need to be mindful that a child may wish to be stopped or at least be given a good excuse for not leaving. It is crucial the carer/parent always shows care and concern, even if they are sure the child is going to leave anyway. Often, a simple telephone call during their absence can be enough to demonstrate this. Carers/parents and residential staff should always inform the Social Worker or Emergency Duty Service (if out of hours) of any unauthorised absences.
Upon receipt of any telephone calls concerning a LAC who is 'Away from Placement Without Authorisation', the Emergency Duty Service Social Worker or the allocated Social Worker should record the information on the Child's electronic file and ensure the Independent Reviewing Officer is 'alerted' to the entry.
It is important to remember that each episode of 'Away from Placement Without Authorisation' must be assessed on its own merit. For example: who the child is with; situation before s/he left; where s/he has gone; risk to self or others; is s/he out of area etc. Any change in circumstances relating to the unauthorised absence, such as visiting an address that has known risk markers identified or associating with any persons known to be a risk to children etc. should be fully assessed and immediate action should be taken to safeguard the child. Responsibility rests with the carer/care staff to locate and return the child, unless doing so would pose a risk to anyone, in which case the Police should be contacted for assistance.
Looked After Children should not routinely be reported to the Police as 'Missing' if carers/care staff know or suspect where they are and are in contact with them. This places a responsibility on carers/care staff to locate and return the child and needs careful co-ordination between Social Care, Police, carer/s and the child. Accurate and up-to-date Missing Risk Assessments are crucial in this respect and must be shared between all parties. It is important for the Police to have full understanding of the child's risks and vulnerabilities clearly recorded within their Trigger Plans to ensure they have a good understanding of the issues when they receive a report about the child.
6. LAC Missing from Care
At the point where the foster carer, residential worker and parent believe the child is missing, the following set of questions can be used to assist this decision making and to share with the Police. Much of this information can be gleaned from the recent 'Missing Risk assessment' that should have been completed by the Social Worker prior or soon after the child is placed in care;
- What is the specific concern in this instance?
- What has been done so far to trace this individual?
- Is this significantly out of character?
- Are there any specific medical / disability 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?
- The nature and reasons for going missing (consider recent events or precipitating factors);
- The likely intentions of the child.
6.1 Immediate Actions
If a child is missing, foster carers, residential staff and parents should take actions as immediately necessary to recover the child and follow the 'Reporting Strategy' as detailed on the child/young person's Missing Risk Assessment. Unless there is an obvious and immediate serious risk to the child or the public, reasonable and practical steps that should be taken before contacting the Police include:
- Searching own premises, grounds and immediate locality;
- Telephoning and sending a text message to the child's mobile phone and checking their Facebook/social media page if this is accessible;
- Checking the places frequented by the child;
- Making enquiries with the child's relatives;
- Making enquiries with the child/'s friends;
- Making enquiries with the child's school, college, providers of education or work placement, community groups or places of worship if appropriate;
- Making enquiries with the other children in the foster, residential or parental home to establish if they have seen or heard anything (this can also stop distressing rumours from circulating);
- Making enquiries with and obtaining further information from other carers and professionals involved with the child;
- Attending at addresses frequented by the child to see if they are there.
Foster carers, residential staff and parents should ensure that when visiting addresses they consider their own safety and if concerned, should seek advice from the Police (dial 101) or Emergency Duty Service (if outside normal office hours on 01484 414933).
If the whereabouts of the child are known, or believed to be known, the residential worker, Social Worker, foster carer or parent should only request Police assistance to recover the child if;
- They are being prevented from obtaining access to the child;
- There is evidence to suggest the child is at immediate risk of serious harm;
This is necessary to prevent a breach of the peace due to a threat of violence or disorder.
The 'Missing Risk Assessment' will detail all actions to be taken for each individual child when they are reported missing. If the residential worker, Social Worker, foster carer or parent is unable to determine the whereabouts of the child and believes she/he may be at risk of serious harm, they must report this to the police.
The missing episode should continue to be monitored by the Police and Children's Social Care, and any new developments concerning the child should be shared between the relevant professionals and the person with Parental Responsibility. For some 'High Risk' missing episodes, consideration should be given to releasing a social media alert via the Police to seek local public assistance in tracing the child. The Police Inspector may also escalate the missing episode by requesting technical data from the child's mobile phone and social media use in order to locate the whereabouts of the child at that time.
A 'Missing Incident Form' (see Appendix 2: Missing Incident Form) must be completed 'live' at the time of the missing episode by the foster carer, residential worker or parent. It must detail the circumstances at the time of leaving and any actions taken in order to contact the child. For children placed at home, the child's Social Worker can assist the parent in completing the 'Missing Incident Form'. A copy of the form should be sent to the child's Social Worker and saved in the child's electronic file.
The Police response will be to investigate and search for the missing child. The Police will require the following additional information;
- A description of the child including what they were wearing;
- If the child had any money in their possession;
- When the child was last seen and with whom;
- A recent photograph of the child;
- Family addresses;
- Other addresses of people the child may make contact with;
- Information regarding any social media the child uses;
- Any previous history of the child going missing.
Any previous history of the child going missing.
Upon receipt of any telephone calls concerning a LAC who is 'Missing', the Emergency Duty Service or the allocated or duty Social Worker should record the information on the Child's electronic file and ensure the Independent Reviewing Officer is 'alerted' to the entry.
6.3 Returning Missing Children to Care
When a child's whereabouts become known, foster carers, residential staff, and parent/carers should decide what actions are necessary to return the child to the placement. Any actions should preferably be with the co-operation or by negotiation with the child. If there are thought to be specific issues of safety or public order difficulties involved in recovering and returning the child, the Police should agree co-ordinated action. If the Police are considering leaving a child at an address to be collected by the Local Authority, the Police Officer must contact the relevant Social Worker or Out of Hours Service to ensure that any risk factors known to the Local Authority are shared and taken into account.
6.4 Police 'Safe and Well' Checks
Safe and Well checks are carried out by the Police as soon as possible after a missing child has been found. Their purpose is to check for any indications that the child has suffered harm, where and with whom they have been, and to give them an opportunity to disclose any offending by or against them.
Agencies should be aware that the attitude of professionals towards a child who has been missing can have a big impact on how they will engage with subsequent investigations and protection planning. Children that have gone missing may be extremely vulnerable to multiple risks. A supportive approach, actively listening and responding to a child's needs, will have a greater chance of preventing the child from going missing again and safeguarding them against other risks.
6.5 If a Child Refuses to Return to Care
A young person is only legally entitled to leave home if they are aged over 16 years and are:
- Married; or
- Have the permission of a parent (and/or the Local Authority if they are subject to an Interim or Full Care Order).
Therefore, if a Looked After Child is located by the Police, the Police will notify the Local Authority of their whereabouts, even if this is not what the child wishes. If there is a concern the child is at risk of significant harm:
- The Police will work with Children's Social Care to protect the child;
- Consideration will be given to taking the child into Police Protection, applying for an Emergency Protection Order, or applying for a Recovery Order.
Where the child is not at risk of significant harm;
- If she/he is under 16 years or subject to a Court Order, the Police and duty manager from Children's Social Care will liaise to discuss what action should be taken to safeguard the child's welfare;
- If they are over 16 years of age and subject to a Care Order, there should be a formal review of their Care Plan at the earliest opportunity.
6.6 Medical Assessment
As soon as the child is located, consideration should be given to whether they need medical attention. If required, a medical examination should be arranged once appropriate permissions have been obtained. This assessment should be recorded and placed on the child's case file.
6.7 Suspected Victim or Perpetrator of a Crime
If there is any suggestion the child has been the victim or perpetrator of crime, consideration must be given to the securing of evidence including forensic examination. Where an allegation of physical or sexual abuse is made or becomes evident, the West Yorkshire Consortium Procedures must be implemented and contact made immediately with the Police Safeguarding Unit and a referral made to Children's Social Care.
6.8 Processing Police Missing Notifications (M7) for LAC by Children's Social Care
The Kirklees Police Missing Person Unit will send all LAC Missing Children Notifications (M7) to Children's Social Care; Duty and Advice Service, Looked After Children Team, the CSE Hub and EITS via secure email. This will occur during and outside of office hours, seven days a week. The Kirklees Missing Co-ordinator will also receive this information.
Any immediate Safeguarding concerns associated with a Missing episode concerning a Child/ren will be referred directly to the allocated Social Worker (or the Emergency Duty Service outside office hours) by the Police Officer involved. It is likely a Strategy Discussion will take place to determine if there are grounds for a S47 enquiry.
Whereby a decision is taken to carry out a S47 Enquiry associated with the Missing episode, then discussions should take place between EITS and the allocated Social Worker to determine if an Independent Return Interview is warranted. This should be decided upon a case-by-case basis.
During office hours, the EITS BSO will alert the allocated Social Worker of the child's missing episode (M7 Notification). The EITS BSO will record the Child's missing episode on Liquid Logic and upload the M7 Notification onto WISDOM under the child's electronic file. EITS will create the Independent Return Interview 'Activity' on Liquid Logic and make the offer of the Independent Return Interview.
6.9 Independent Return Interviews
When a child is found, she/he must be offered an Independent Return Interview. This is carried out by EITS in Kirklees for all Looked After Children. EITS will aim to initiate and carry out an Independent Return Interview within 72 hours of the child returning home. In order to meet this timescale, the Police must ensure Children's Social Care is informed of the child's return within 24 hours.
If the offer of an Independent Return Interview is accepted, a home visit (or other depending on the Child's circumstances and where s/he feels safe) is booked for a mutually convenient time, whereby an EITS worker will carry out the Independent Return Interview.
Independent Return Interviews are 'in-depth assessments' and provide an opportunity to uncover information that can help protect children from the risk of going missing again, from risks they may have been exposed to while missing or from risk factors in their home. Specifically, it should:
- Be held in a neutral place where the child feels safe;
- Identify and deal with any harm the child has suffered – including harm that might not have already been disclosed as part of the Police Safe and Well check – either before they ran away or whilst missing. This might include risk of sexual exploitation, involvement in criminal activity and contact with people that pose a risk to children;
- Understand and try to address the reasons why the child ran away;
- Help the child to feel safe and understand they have options to prevent repeat instances of running away;
- Provide them with information on how to stay safe if they choose to run away again, including helpline numbers; and
- Determine what support they require upon returning home.
The information gathered during an Independent Return Interview for all Looked After Children should enable professionals to assess the risk that the child will go missing again, and/or if she/he is likely to suffer significant harm in such circumstances. Details of the Independent Return Interview should be recorded on the child's electronic file to enable the allocated Social Worker and other professionals to view and share the information as appropriate. An Independent Return Interview is not deemed to be 'Confidential' and the Child and their parent/carer should be informed of such and told the information will be shared with the Police and other relevant agencies.
In cases whereby the child/young person has a CSE Classification and is actively managed by the CSE Hub, then a CSE Engagement Worker from the CSE Hub will carry out the Independent Return Interview.
Any Safeguarding concerns that may arise during the course of carrying out an Independent Return Interview, then the EITS worker or the CSE Engagement Worker must inform the carer/staff and seek advice from their line Manager and/or contact the allocated Social Worker or the Emergency Duty Service (if outside office hours). The EITS or the CSE Engagement Worker is expected to carry out any actions as a result of the advice given and agreed, unless such actions are identified for the LAC Social Worker (or Duty LAC Social Worker) to address.
It may be deemed more appropriate for another professional to conduct the Independent Return Interview if the child has a strong relationship with for example, their Social Worker and has expressed a preference to talk to him/her about the reasons they went missing. This should be arranged if requested by the child and it is a good idea to include this information as part of the child's Missing Risk assessment under 'Action Plan'. The Social Worker must visit the child within 72 hours of the child returning.
The review of a Missing Risk Assessment by the LAC Social Worker after every reported missing episode will assist in determining the risk factors associated with;
- The likelihood of going missing again; and
- The likelihood of significant harm she/he may be exposed to when missing, and
- Ensure a Missing Risk Management Plan is in place (see Appendix 1: Missing Absent / Risk Assessment Tool and Appendix 3: Missing Strategy Meeting and Risk Management Plan.
Children's home staff or foster carers should continue to offer warm and consistent care when a child returns, and running away will not be viewed as behaviour that needs to be punished.
The Independent Reviewing Officer must decide whether to convene a review or whether the issues can be addressed at the next scheduled review. The review will provide an opportunity to check the Care Plan and address the reasons for the missing episode. The review should contribute to the strategy to minimise a repeat of the missing episode. In particular any issues relating to the vulnerability of the child to sexual exploitation, trafficking or crime/gang involvement should be identified and actions to address these needs and ensure the child is kept safe clearly set out in the care plan. The Police and other relevant agencies should be given the opportunity to contribute to the review.
6.10 If Children/Families Decline the Independent Return Interview
Regardless of whether a Looked After Child agrees or declines to engage with the Independent Return Interview process, the allocated Social Worker must visit the child within 72 hours. Any relevant information and intelligence gleaned pertaining to the missing episode by the child or his/her carers should be recorded on the child's electronic file and shared with the Police as necessary. Details of the Independent Return Interview should be recorded on the child's electronic file.
The allocated LAC Social Worker should still review the Missing Risk Assessment even when an Independent Return Interview has been declined by the Looked After Child.
6.11 When to call a Strategy Meeting
Repeatedly going missing should not be viewed as a normal pattern of behaviour. For example, repeat episodes of a child going missing can indicate sexual exploitation. In addition to strategies and issues already highlighted, a Strategy Meeting should be considered for children who have been reported missing:
- A minimum of three times within the previous 30 day period; or
- Have been missing for more than 24 hours in duration for a single reported episode.
It is the LAC Team Manager's responsibility to call and chair the Strategy Meeting. For all missing episodes deemed to be 'High Risk', the LAC Team Manager should make the decision to convene a S47 Strategy Meeting and follow the required procedure. For more information on S47 Strategy Enquiries please see the Section 47 Procedures.
6.12 Missing Intervention Programme
All Looked After Children residing in Kirklees internal Residential Children's Homes, should undergo the LAC Missing Intervention Programme as part of their individual Care Plan. This can be delivered via individual key worker sessions or within a group setting. The programme includes a 'staying safe agreement'.
6.13 Looked After Children who may have been Trafficked from Abroad
Unaccompanied migrant or asylum seeking children who go missing immediately after becoming Looked After should be treated as potential victims of trafficking. Please refer to the 'Safeguarding Children who may have been Trafficked' procedures on-line regarding the specific risk of trafficking: West Yorkshire Consortium Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures, Children from Abroad, including Victims of Modern Slavery, Trafficking and Exploitation Procedure.
7. Disabled Children
Safeguards for disabled children are essentially the same as for non-disabled children and should include enabling them to:
- Make their wishes and feelings known;
- Raise concerns;
- Have a means of communication and range of adults with whom they can communicate.
Disabled Children's Homes keep outside doors locked whenever children are at home and this provides a safe living environment. The majority of disabled children living in care require a high level of support, so if an incident occurs and the child leaves the premises and cannot be located, this should be treated as a 'High Risk' incident.
Other specific vulnerabilities for some disabled children could result in additional risks during any missing episode. The imminent risk of significant harm resulting in injury or death could occur e.g. running onto main roads, and it is crucial that care staff and foster carers call 999 when reporting a disabled child as missing.
The allocated Disabled Children's' Social Worker must complete the Missing Risk Assessment form, detailing the child's specific needs and vulnerabilities and include a reporting strategy so all professionals and carers are clear about what to do if the child is missing. For cases where there is no allocated Social Worker, the residential staff must complete the Missing Risk Assessment and ensure all staff are familiar with it.
8. Data on Looked After Children
Data on Looked After Children who go missing, or who are away from placement without authorisation, will be analysed regularly in order to map problems and patterns particularly in regards to links to sexual or other forms of exploitation or of involvement in drugs, gangs, criminal activity or trafficking. Regular reports on this data will be provided to the Senior Management Team. Data for children missing or away from placement without authorisation will be reported to the Department for Education through annual data returns on Looked After Children.