If a child is in immediate danger please call 999
What it is
As a parent or carer if you do not know where your child or young person is i.e. they are not where they should be, such as not in school, not at home after their curfew, or where they told you they were going to be. You should make attempts to locate them by phoning them, contacting their friends and informing the police.
The police define a missing person as “anyone whose whereabouts is unknown whatever the circumstances of disappearance. They will be considered missing until located and their well-being or otherwise established”. That means that if you do not know where your child or young person you are caring for is they will be considered missing until the police know for certain what has happened.
If you are aware that your child or a child in your care is missing you should report this to the Police (dial 101 or 999 in an emergency). Anyone can report someone missing.
What to do if you are worried
As a parent or carer of a child or young person who is missing this can be a very difficult and challenging time. You have to report this to the police and most importantly help them with their enquiries.
Safe and well checks are carried out by the Police as soon as possible after a young person reported as missing has been found. The aim is to check whether the young person has suffered harm, where and with whom they have been, and to give them an opportunity to talk about any offences which may have been committed by or against them. Barnet children's services will also offer the young person an independent return home interview. This sounds formal, but it’s a conversation with the young person giving them a chance to talk to about the time they were reported missing.
There is always a reason why young people go missing and it is essential to understand the full picture so you can best support them to stay safe and reduce the number of times they go missing.
The Children's Society have a practical guide for parents and carers.
NSPCC provides a helpline for adults who are concerned about the safety or welfare of a child on 0808 800 5000.
Samaritans offer a free confidential listening service on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.