6.6 Safeguarding Foreign National Children Who Go Missing
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This guidance applies to children and Adults at Risk who are ‘subject to restriction’, i.e. who has/have been:
- Proceeds through immigration control without obtaining leave to enter; or
- Leaves the border control area Border Force accommodation without permission; or
- Granted temporary admission; or
- Granted temporary release or bail; or
- Released on a restriction order; or
- Served with a notice of liability to deport or is the dependant of a foreign national offender whose status in the UK is under consideration by criminal casework – these dependants could be British Citizens or have extant leave.
This chapter was added to this manual in March 2014.
Home Office staff must always make a referral to a statutory agency responsible for child protection or child welfare such as the local police, the Health Service, or the Children’s Department of a local authority in a number of circumstances including; when a child is identified as having run away from their parents, where they are Looked After by a local authority and have gone missing from their care placement or where they are being hidden by their parents and where there is concern for the child’s safety because they are being hidden by, or have gone missing with, their family.
When a child or Adult at Risk is ‘missing’ (their whereabouts cannot be established and the circumstances are out of character or the context suggests that they may be subject of crime or at risk of harm to themselves or another), a missing persons referral must be made by Home Office staff to the police, UK Missing Person Bureau and the local authority children’s or adult s services. Likewise, notifications will be made where a missing child or Adult at Risk is found by Home Office staff.
The local authority/health are responsible for:
- Reporting any missing child who is in their care to the police;
- Notifying the Home Office when a child is reported missing to the police or is found.
The police are responsible for:
- Investigating all Home Office missing children following receipt of a missing person’s notification;
- Conducting joint investigations with the Home Office where necessary;
- Circulating a missing child on the Police National Computer (PNC).
The Police central point of contact is the PNC Team in Liverpool.
When the whereabouts of a child in the care of the local authority is unknown, it will be the responsibility of that authority to conduct any enquiries necessary to locate the child or report the child missing to the local police. The local authority will also notify the Home Office Evidence and Enquiry Unit when a child in their care goes missing or when a missing child returns or is found. The Home Office must maintain regular weekly contact with the local authority and the police until the child is found and record all contact with the police and local authority.
If it is believed by Home Office staff that a child is being coerced to abscond or go missing, this must be reported as a child protection issue with the local police and children’s services.
As soon as there is sufficient information for the Home Office to make a decision that a child is missing, or there are concerns for their safety, the child must be reported to the local police and children’s services as missing. A copy of the missing persons notification form must be faxed or emailed to the local authority duty desk and the UK MPB.
The Home Office must maintain regular weekly contact with the local authority and the police until the child is found and record all contact with the police and local authority.
If the child or vulnerable adult family member of a foreign national offender is a British Citizen or has valid leave to enter or remain in the UK, the police and local authority should be informed immediately of the concerns for the child or vulnerable adult’s safety.
Found by Home Office Staff
The local police and local authority must be informed immediately.
In consultation with the local police and local authority, a decision will be made as to where the child or Adult at Risk is to be taken if they are not to be left at the address where they are encountered. The Home Office must follow up enquires with the local police and children/adult services in order to identify if there are any safeguarding issues.
Found by the Police or Local Authority
The Home Office Command and Control Unit (CommandandControlUnit@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk) will be the single point of contact for the local police and the Evidence and Enquiry Unit will be the single point of contact for local authorities to notify the Home Office that a child or Adult at Risk has been found.