Missing or out of contact person

Children and adults who go missing from Social Services care can place themselves, and often others, at risk. The reasons for their absences are varied and complex and cannot be viewed in isolation from their home circumstances and their experiences of care.

Every 'missing' episode should therefore attract proper attention from the professionals involved with the child or adult and those professionals in turn must collaborate to ensure a consistent and coherent response is given to the child or adult on his/her return.

The Police are frequent partners of Social Services in managing "missing" episodes and it is therefore important that staff in both agencies work together.

In all missing persons cases you are advised to first contact the police and file a missing persons report, listen to the police advice given and act accordingly.

Missing adults

For adults to be considered "missing", he/she must be absent from their residence for a minimum period of 24 hours.

Missing children

In relation to "missing children", a child (meaning a young person under the age of 18 years) is to be considered "missing" if he/she is absent from his/her place of residence without authority to a degree or in circumstances where the absence causes concern for safety of the child or there is potential danger to the public.

Absences that cause concern are those where staff or carers have no indication that a child is likely to return within a short space of time, or where there is immediate concern for the child's safety.

Clearly some children absent themselves for a short period and then return; often their whereabouts are known. They are not considered at risk and usually they are testing boundaries. Sometimes children stay out longer than agreed either on purpose or unwittingly. This kind of boundary testing activity is well within the range of normal teenage behaviour and should not come within the definition of "missing".

To make a general enquiry about a missing child or adult, please contact Thames Valley Police or the Missing Persons helpline.

To make a specific enquiry about a child or adult who has left care or is considered to be missing, contact Customer Services on 01344 352000.

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