Every child who goes missing from home or care will now have the chance to talk to an independent person about why they ran away.
The new rules unveiled by Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson will see all children who return, having run away, receive an independent return interview organised by their local authority. Only then will agencies find out why they ran away and help prevent it happening again.
Edward Timpson, Minister for Children and Families, said: "For too long support for children who have gone missing has been patchy. Our new rules mean that every child will now have the chance to talk to a sympathetic, independent person. Only then will we find out why they ran away and if they came to harm, and help to make sure they don’t run away again. Councils must now rise to the challenge. Within the next 6 months I expect all to have made dramatic improvements to the support they provide missing children, and for all to offer return interviews to every child that has been missing from home or care. This is part of a package of reforms to children’s residential care, monitored by Ofsted, to improve safety and stop children running away. Children’s homes will now work much more closely with police and councils – and all will follow tighter rules when children are at risk of going missing."
The new rules were developed in conjunction with the Children’s Society, Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said: "This is fantastic news for children, a crucial step forward. We are delighted that the government has shown its commitment to such a vulnerable group of children. We’ve been campaigning for these changes because we work with runaway children across the country. We see first-hand the dangers they face while they’re missing and the problems at home that make them run away in the first place. As we know from our work, simply having someone independent to talk to when they return can make a huge difference and help keep children safe from harm."
Norman Baker, Crime Prevention Minister, said: "I want to see proper protection and support being given to vulnerable children who go missing from home. Agencies need to work better together to ensure children’s voices are heard and those who exploit them are brought to justice. Asking children why they went missing is crucial to understanding how they can be best supported on their return and I am pleased the new guidance asks local authorities to carry out independent interviews with them. I hope that this will improve the care being provided to those who need it most."
Link to the Guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/children-who-run-away-or-go-missing-from-home-or-care