Northamptonshire Joint Protocol on children who run away or go missing from home or care.

The Children’s Society ‘Still Running’ survey1 estimated that around 100,000 children aged 14 and 15 run away from home or Care each year across the UK. Many of these children stay with friends or family members, but some do not have these support systems or are forced to stay in environments harmful to their safety and well-being, and so become involved in activities that may put them at risk. 1.2 Missing episodes are often associated with the child being the victim or a perpetrator of crime.

There are strong links between children involved in sexual exploitation and behaviours such as running away from home or Care, bullying, self-harm, teenage pregnancy, truancy and substance misuse. Some children are particularly vulnerable, for example children with special needs, in residential or foster care, Care Leavers, migrant children, unaccompanied asylum seeking children and children at risk of forced marriage or gang involvement.

Research shows that the level of risk to the individual child escalates with each missing episode making repeat episodes a significant indicator of high risk to the child. 1.3 The majority of children go missing from their family home. Over 50% of children in Care have run away at some point, but the majority do not run away regularly or for long periods. The care system does not necessarily cause children to run away, often, a pattern of running away was established at an early age and was a factor in the young person’s admission to Care. 

This Protocol has been jointly developed by Northamptonshire Children’s Social Care and Northamptonshire Police Service in accordance with the following national guidance on missing children:


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