Missing children: who cares? - The police response to missing and absent children

Summary

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.

Get the report

Missing children: who cares? – The police response to missing and absent children

Get the research report

Children’s voices research report – children and young people’s perspectives on the police’s role in safeguarding

Get the press release

Dedication of police officers to help missing and absent children undermined by unacceptable inconsistencies across forces, leaving children at risk

Get the police and crime commissioners’ responses to the report

Cumbria police and crime commissioner’s response to ‘Missing children: who cares?’

Devon and Cornwall police and crime commissioner’s response to ‘Missing children: who cares?’

Dorset police and crime commissioner’s response to ‘Missing children: who cares?’

Merseyside police and crime commissioner’s response to ‘Missing children: who cares?’

North Yorkshire police and crime commissioner’s response to ‘Missing children: who cares?’

West Mercia police and crime commissioner’s response to ‘Missing children: who cares?’ (please refer to page 41)

West Yorkshire police and crime commissioner’s response to ‘Missing children: who cares?’

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