Children and young people who go missing or run away

When children go missing, absences that cause the most concern are those where parent's, carers or staff have no indication that a child is likely to return within a short space of time or where there is an immediate concern for the child's safety. Some children and young people are more vulnerable than others. Some children and young people may be at risk of harm. An attempt to contact and find them should always be made before they are reported as missing.

In all cases where the child or young person is missing and you believe that they are at risk then you are advised to contact the police on 999 and file a missing persons report; listen to the police advice given and act accordingly.

Where the child or young person is in the care of the local authority the police work closely with the children's home, carers and children's social care to find them.  The police will assess the risk to the young person missing from care and determine what action to take.

The Children Who Go Missing Strategy (PDF 571KB) and the Joint Protocol - Children and young people who runaway or go missing from home or care (PDF 1.48MB) and supporting documents provide information and guidance for everyone working with children, young people and their families.

The strategy aims to draw together existing protocols and procedures, to raise awareness and improve the collective response of the agencies that are involved in improving the safety of children and young people.


Children's Social Care
Tel: 0300 123 6701