Missing children: who cares? - The police response to missing and absent children
Each year thousands of children go missing from their homes. Although the majority of them return home or are found soon after, all children who go missing are potentially at risk of harm, and a significant number, because of their circumstances, will face the risk of sexual, criminal or economic exploitation.
Responding to missing incidents places a high demand on police time, but the consequences of not investigating cases can be extremely serious, leaving some children at risk of exploitation and/or significant harm.
As part of HMIC’s annual assessment of police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy in 2015, we assessed forces’ preparedness to tackle child sexual exploitation, because children who go missing are at greater risk of becoming a victim of this kind of offending.
This report sets out the results of this inspection, with additional evidence from other child protection inspections HMIC carried out from 2014 to 2016.
HMIC has also published the results of a research project, commissioned from the University of Bedfordshire, exploring the experiences of 45 children who had come into contact with the police because of concerns about their safety or well being.