Missing children and young people

Children and young people go missing from home or care for a number of reasons, some of which are often varied and complex.

Those who go missing may place themselves and others at risk. As well as short-term risks there can be long term implications for these children and young people.

Bedford Borough Safeguarding Children Partnership (BBSCP) and its partner agencies (particularly Bedfordshire Police and Bedford Borough Council) have a commitment to safeguarding those young people who go missing and put themselves at risk of exploitation and other forms of harm. There is a commitment for every ‘missing episode’ to attract the proper attention from the professionals involved with the young person.  

Since April 2013 Police forces have been rolling out new definitions of ‘missing’ and ‘absent’ in relation to children and adults reported as missing to the Police. These are:

  • Missing: anyone whose whereabouts cannot be established and where the circumstances are out of character, or the context suggests the person may be subject of crime or at risk of harm to themselves or another; and
  • Absent: a person not at a place where they are expected or required to be.

The Missing Children and Young People Panel (MCYPP) is a multi-agency panel held once a month with regular representatives from Bedfordshire Police, Children’s Services (all three Local Authorities), Youth Offending, Health and any other invited agencies. 

The meeting is intended to share intelligence and information, provide interventions and reduce the risk to children and young people who are regularly reported missing or absent. The panel does not address risks relating to Child Sexual Exploitation and these should be referred to the Child Sexual Exploitation Panel.

If you are concerned about the risk a child or young person is being exposed to during periods of absence/missing or the number of times a child or young person is absent or missing, a referral can be made to the panel. If you wish to discuss any case you are considering for referral to the panel, advice or the full Terms of Reference can be sought from Bedfordshire Police Missing Persons Unit (via 101). The MCYPP referral form can be located below.

Access the procedures regarding missing children and young people here.

View the Government's Statutory guidance for local authorities and their partners to stop children going missing and to protect those who do.

Runaway Helpline has launched a new website and is promoting its free 24/7 confidential helpline 116000. Please share the website with young people you are working with and there are lots of topics there about the problems and reasons that young people run away, to inform discussions and to help.

Runaway Helpline
Free, 24/7 confidential support
Runaway Helpline is here if you are thinking about running away, if
you have already run away, or if you have been away and come back.
Email: 116000@runawayhelpline.org.uk
Call or Text: 116 000