PAN MANCHESTER MISSING FROM CARE PROTOCOL
On Tuesday 09 Nov 10, Greater Manchester Police hosted a consultation workshop with a host of representatives from partner agencies,
including Children’s Services, Private and Local Authority Children’s Home providers and staff, Social Workers and independent agencies such
as Safe In The City and Barnados.
Between Dec 10 and Feb 11, consultations were conducted in Manchester, Salford, Rochdale and Stockport by Safe In The City, Children In
Care Councils and Youth Services with children aged between 13 and 18 years. Most of the young people consulted live in Residential Care
Homes, although some are living in Foster Care and several of the young people had experience of living in both settings.
These consultations would not have been possible without the support of all partner agencies, and in particular the work and support of Pamela
Taylor and Marie Richardson (GMPA), Kate Wood (GM Safeguarding Partnership), and Elise Noblett and Mari Gibson (Safe In The City) is
most gratefully acknowledged.
Pan Manchester Missing From Care Protocol Working Group
A Working Group will now be established to review the results of all consultations, the key points of which are contained herein. Such details
must be reviewed in parallel within the ever changing scope of “Missing Persons” brought about by the current requirements to reduce
bureaucracy whilst getting value for money and maintaining corporate responsibilities to the children and young people concerned and the
greater population of Greater Manchester,
Ser Consultation Issues Comments and Recommendations Additional Comments
(P – Partnership) (C+YP – Children + Young people)
(a) (b) (c) (d)
1 Prevention and Intervention / P - Discussions with Ofsted should be developed, to ensure standardisation of Comments were made regarding the length of
reasons for “running” messages, and establish their requirements of partners prior to Inspections etc. time it takes to complete checks on other
addresses at which the young person wishes to
P – Neighbourhood Policing Teams, Divisional MFH SPOCs and/or Police stay.
Community Support Officers (PCSOs) should be encouraged to develop more of a
relationship with the care homes, care staff and their residents within their local
C+YP – Some children / young people indicated they go missing as they just
wanted to do “normal” things but were unable to due to policies within the care
home, this resulted in “missing” reports.
C+YP – Young people also reported the following as reasons for leaving the care
Being unhappy, having an argument or experiencing bullying or serious
Wanting to be somewhere else, such as with mum and dad or at
Feeling rebellious or experiencing peer pressure.
2 Planning / Consequences P – Local police should become involved in care placement discussions / No consequences for child / young person,
decisions, and should challenge the placement of children / young people in therefore no deterrent.
particular homes when necessary
C+YP – Consequences - Some young people suggested that luxury items could be
removed, whilst others were very clear that Care Staff could not deprive individuals
of their personal items. Another option was a reduction in their free time.
C + YP – Many felt that the child / young person should be involved in agreeing the
likely consequences of being reported missing PRIOR to them being reported.
3 Unauthorised Absence / P – Care providers, the Local Authority, and social workers are responsible for any A new multi-force trial, based on work being
Curfew times limits on agreed periods of Unauthorised absence – the police will take no part in carried out by Sussex police may address some
any such discussions. of these considerations, and alter current
P – There should be an agreed process for extending periods of unauthorised
absence when the location of the individual is known, or is believed to be known There was recognition from C&YP that everyone
is different so for some people you would need to
P and C+YP – The child or young person themselves should be included in alert Police earlier than for others if you hadn’t
discussions regarding MFH procedures, and the circumstances which may trigger heard from them or they were late.
a period of unauthorised absence / missing.
C+YP – Young people felt that if a carer knew where they were, they should not be
C+YP – If a young person is late home or goes out when they weren’t meant to,
they are not automatically missing. Steps should be followed and a certain amount
of time waited before reporting them.
C+YP – Some young people suggested that if regular contact was established,
even if the actual location of the child or young person was not known, then that
person was not “missing”. Others suggested that they should be reported after a
certain amount of time, ie after 24 hrs.
C+YP – most young people indicated that they do not get a say in their curfew time
and that there was no flexibility. Some felt that their curfew was fair whilst others
didn’t and most groups indicated a wide variation of times between different
homes, with some exercising weekend extensions and others not.
C+YP – Some young people with experience of Foster care felt that the process
there was more personal, and the young person was involved in the process
4 Reporting Procedures and P – There is an expectation that care providers should complete a series of tasks All care homes taking part in the Electronic
Processes designed at locating the individual prior to them being reported to the police. transfer of data process have been given a list of
Police expectations – homes may be challenged
to ensure these have been completed before a
report is taken.
P – Training Issues
“No real MFH training within care homes”
“No training, staff gain experience through shadowing and following flow Young People also confirmed the benefits of
charts – care plans tend to direct actions building a relationship with the same officer
C+YP – Many young people stated that a common reason they would not disclose
where they were, or why care providers didn’t have details of friends was that the
young people themselves did not want their friends to know they were in care, and
they had concerns that the police would turn up to make enquiries, thereby
notifying the friend that they were in care.
“Police could text young people first and if they don’t get a response they
should call and then come looking”
5 Information Sharing P – “Safety of children is paramount – data protection concerns should never be an
P – “Difficulty communicating with Police – trying to get police to attend strategy
meetings – will exchange / offer info to Police via SPOC – but not always clear –
no cover / deputy”
6 Police Safe and Well P – SWC should not be conducted by Response Officers The issue of building relationships with the same
Checks (SWC) officers was again mentioned by the young
P – SWC should not be conducted during silent hours unless the attendance of a people
Return Interviews police officer is specifically requested by the child / youn person, or their care
provider, to address a particular issue, allegation or complaint. “There is a mixed response by Police Officers
Independent Interviews towards the MFH”
P – SWC should be conducted by care staff at the residence unless the child /
young person specifically requests the attendance of a police officer. “ response officers sometimes not displaying the
correct attitude possibly because of their lack of
P – Divisions should be encouraged to use the same officers to conduct checks knowledge of public protection.”
with returned Looked After Children, thus continuing to build upon existing
relationships to gather information and intelligence from which further prevention
and intervention strategies may be developed.
“SWCs should not be carried out in the early
C+YP – Many young people stated that the SWC could be completed by care staff hours – day time visits if appropriate –
and the police could be fed back the results. appointments could be made so the care home
and young person know the date/time and
C+YP – Most young people agreed that if someone they trusted could complete location of the SWC”
the SWC and report back to the police, this would be best. This should be
someone nominated by the young person. “ Kids do not want to speak with the police “
C+YP – Many young people did not feel that their social worker had been involved “Always carried out by a Police Officer – but
much in past incidents of going missing. It was suggested that young people better trained – same officer / team or unit to
should be given the choice to speak to the Social Worker who should then visit and carry out SWCs”
speak to them as soon as possible, especially if they have not been able to speak
to a trusted person outside of the home environment. But many young people
didn’t see the need for their social worker to be involved automatically every time.
C+YP – Reported that the option to speak to an independent interviewing agency
very much depended upon the area they were missing from, and not all missing
young people were offered this service.
7 Responsibilities P – Responsibility for the well being of the child / young person remains with the
Care Provider / Local authority at all times, and is not transferred to the police by
means of a missing from home report.
C+Y – Some young people recognised that they themselves have a responsibility
to maintain contact with the care home, and even if they were not intending going
home, they should at least ring the home (or police) to say they were OK and
where they were.
C+Y – Comments made by young people regarding the responsibilities of Care
providers mirrored those mentioned by the Partnership Groups , namely - there is
an expectation that care providers should complete a series of tasks designed at
locating the individual prior to them being reported to the police.
8 Miscellaneous Issues P – Policy documents – Differences in policies and procedures between local Standard approach is required – hence the need
authorities, private care homes owned by the same company within different local for a Pan Manchester Protocol.
authority areas, and differing police approaches across the different divisions.
“Blue Light Taxi” C+Y – Some young people noted that one positive aspect of being reported was
that they could get a lift home (By Police) if they were far away.
Now consultations have been completed, and recommendations identified above, a communication strategy needs to be established, and a
working group needs to be convened in order to produce a Missing From Care Protocol which sits alongside the 10 LSCB Missing From Home
and Care policies across Greater Manchester.