West Yorkshire Police will be piloting a new framework which has been developed to look at best practice in safeguarding children in care who go missing.
The pilot will launch today, Thursday 25 May, which coincides with International Missing Children’s Day.
The framework looks at the under-recording and reporting of young people as missing which can lead to lost opportunities to safeguard those children.
Relevant partners will be informed of risk
It focuses on previous behaviour, trigger incidents and out of character behaviour, as well as post-incident behaviour that may inform relevant partners of risk.
This will help to ensure that children in care are appropriately safeguarded from potentially unsafe situations or risk of suffering significant harm.
In addition, it also looks at the premature or unnecessary reporting of children in care as missing, which can lead to avoidable police contact or potential criminalisation of looked after children.
The framework also supports the Philomena Protocol which focuses on recording important information about a child who may go missing to assist in assessing the level of risk and to provide information which may assist in locating the child.
The pilot will formalise an escalation process to be used by carers
West Yorkshire Police incorporated many of the principles of the framework into their Force Missing Person Policy in January 2022 and the Local Authorities state the framework reflects the values that they strive to achieve in their Children’s Homes.
The pilot will raise awareness and provide training to police officers and staff, partners and carers from the statutory and independent sectors, and will formalise an escalation process where carers can appeal to a senior officer if they feel the police have inappropriately declined to respond and record a young person as missing.
Academic partners will evaluate the pilot
The pilot will be evaluated by academic partners, and the police force will work together with the Department for Education and Association of Directors of Children’s Services
Deputy Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson of West Yorkshire Police, National NPCC Lead for Missing People, said: “We welcome this pilot launching here in West Yorkshire, to support our ongoing commitment to safeguard vulnerable people who may go missing.
“Whilst we have implemented a number of key levels of the pilot in West Yorkshire since January, we can still draw up the findings of the pilot, to provide a better understanding of what needs to be achieved in this area of work nationally.”
“Working with partners is a key element of this work and I am confident that we can continue to work together to prevent children from experiencing unsafe situations and risk of coming to harm.”
(Source: West Yorkshire Police)