Agenda item

Missing Children

To consider and comment on work undertaken by the Council and its partners to address the vulnerabilities of children and young people who are at risk and who go missing from home or care in Haringey


Pauline Morris, Head of Service (SQIP), reported that safeguarding partners supported and had adopted the protocols relating to missing children, which had been reviewed earlier this year.  Training on the updated protocol was taking place and included the actions supporting it.   She outlined some of the achievements that had been made by the Council and its partners, which included:

·         The development of a missing children app by Haringey Safeguarding Children’s Partnership, which was a self-reporting tool and enabled young people to activate support from across the partnership and to request a return home interview;

·         Widening the quarterly reporting from partners to provide analysis of key themes and issues in order to better understand child sexual and criminal exploitation; and

·         Repurposing the Family Network meetings to provide opportunities for looked after children to develop their care plans and shape their contact arrangements safely.


She reported that there had been improvements in the following areas:

·         Recording and compliance;

·         Management of missing and high-risk cases, through the monthly Vulnerability, Violence and Exploitation Prevention Panel  meetings;

·         Monthly MACE meetings considered intelligence around the problem profiling victims, offenders, locations, and themes (VOLT); and

·         The Virtual School lead for Haringey received daily data on missing children and is routinely invited to all missing strategies for looked after children.


Looked after children were most at risk from going missing. Children reported as missing were likely to be involved with “county lines” and local low level drug distribution. A disproportionate percentage of young people who were reported missing were from Black and Minority Ethnic communities. The number of looked after children reported missing remained highest amongst the 15 to 17 age group. Between April 2020 and March 2021, there were a total of 806 missing episodes reported, involving 190 children.  The service were aware of the identities of the children who most frequently went missing and provided a range of support to them. 


All children who went missing were offered a return home interview but not all took up the offer.  Refusal was most common amongst older children.  Amongst children living at home, either the parent or the child could refuse the offer.  Return home interviews were only effective if follow up support was offered that addressed the reasons for them absconding.  This may include a reassessment, initiating a team around the family, referral to a specialist service such as CAMHS or involvement of colleagues from the voluntary agencies. The needs and intervention plans of young people considered to be at highest risk were considered at the Edge of Care Panel.  56% of missing children were male and 44% female.  The majority of children who went missing were absent for less than 24 hours.  


In answer to a question, she stated that main reasons that young people returned after going missing was that they had accomplished the task that they had set out to do or that they had been won round by continued contact from the service.   In answer to another question, she stated that some young people who went missing were known to the Youth Offending Service.  In some cases, this was as a result of being stopped by the Police whilst missing and being found in possession of items that they should not have.  As far as she was aware, no young people had gone missing from unregistered homes.



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