Missing from Home or Care

Teenage girl face

A child or young person will be considered Missing if he / she is absent from their home or placement and

  • their whereabouts are unknown or can't be established 

  • their behavior is out of character and/or

  • their vulnerability means that there is a cause to be concerned for their welfare or safety. 

Unauthorised absences, is not missing but when the whereabouts of the child are known but this has not been authorised. Those which cause concern are where:

  • there are concerns about the safety of the child
  • there is no indication that the child is likely to return within a reasonable period of time; and
  • there appears to be immediate risk to the child

The Missing from Care or Home procedures below should be followed in these instances and Child Protection Procedures should be followed, if required, on the child’s return. Reference should also be made to the London Child Protection Procedures and if needed the supplementary London multi-agency procedures relating to specific circumstances such as CSE, gang involvement or trafficking. These procedures provide information that may help staff to recognise and manage these circumstances.

Lambeth has a Missing Coordinator, Emily Wareham ewareham@lambeth.gov.uk on 0207 926 8192 who can be contacted for advice.

If you are worried about a child, contact the Integrated Referral Hub:

If you are a professional, please always follow up your referral in writing by filling in the Multi-Agency Referral Form (MARF) and forward it to the email address above. Always consider other related possible risks in your assessment such as CSE, gang affiliation, county lines or radicalisation; see the Young People At Risk Strategy below.

The Missing People charity can support professionals as well as parents/carers and young people via their website or their helpline number 116000. Further organisations that can provide advice and support are in Resources below.

If a child is at immediate risk of significant harm, please dial 999


Young People at Risk Strategy

The LSCB published a Young People at Risk Strategy which sets out our ambition and resolve for young people to be free from the risk of

  • CSE
  • Missing from home, care or education
  • Serious Youth Violence
  • Involvement with gangs and/ or County Lines
  • Radicalisation

It was launched at the YPAR conference in October 2017, please see the keynote speaker presentations below and a brief video from the conference:


Children who run away or go missing from home or care (DfE 2014)

Children Missing from Care, Home and Education (London Child Protection procedures)

Working with children and young people who experience running away and child sexual exploitation: An evidence-based guide for practitioners

Organisations that provide support:

Alone in London - Services to engage and support young people aged 16-25 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Tel: 020 7278 4224

Safe@Last - Website/text/phone service for children thinking of running away or who are missing. Tel: 0800 335 7723 or text 60777

www.safeatlast.org.uk – Project in Yorkshire which supports missing children however they run a webchat/text/phone service for any missing children

Missing Kids UK - a website run by the Missing Children Team, part of CEOP Command within the National Crime Agency. Has pictures of missing children and advice for parents, practitioners and young people.

Children’s Society - An organisation providing various projects around missing and related issues. Tel: 300 303 7000

  • Safe Choices – Leaving Care and Custody: Provide support for young women aged between 15 and 25 who are leaving custody or leaving care and are at risk of sexual exploitation.
  • Rise - Support across London for boys and young men aged 11 to 25 who have been trafficked. 
  • US service - Support for young people with learning disability at risk of CSE.

BarnardosRHI Service for LAC - missing.london@barnardos.org.uk or call London Office - 0208 550 8822

Railway  Children - Advice, support and outreach work for young people on the streets and advice for adults working with them, also fund projects abroad for missing children. Tel: 01270 757 596

Safer London Foundation - Specialising in supporting young people through violence and exploitation. Tel: 020 7021 0301. Projects run are:

  • EmpowerWorker based in Lambeth, 1:1 support and advocacy for girls aged 11 - 19 experiencing CSE
  • London Gang Exit ProgrammeAnyone aged 16-24 who is gang-involved or gang-affiliated can get support to exit, no matter which borough of London they live in.

Childline - Providing a free helpline on 0800 1111 and offering advice about various issues including 'Homelessness and running away'.

NSPCCNSPCC has a range of resources and research on their website. They also run a child trafficking advice centre which can be contacted on the helpline number. 24 Hour Child Protection National Helpline - 0808 800 5000, FGM Helpline - 0800 028 3550

Reunite - Advice and help for parents whose children have been removed from the UK. Advice line 01162 556234.