The Board received a report on the missing from care episodes from August 2021 to July 2022.
It was noted that the Philomena protocol, which was drafted with police and local authorities, has been used since 2019 across foster families, care homes and private placements. Once a child is missing the referral forms are very detailed and defines what category they are; low, medium or high risk. Age is a key factor around defining a category.
For those young people who continually go missing there is a daily meeting held with the police and as a result, those occurrences are reducing.
It was noted that for those young people ‘absent’ this is defined at the young person not being at the place where they are expected and there is no apparent risk. There is a distinction in terms of how police and the service respond to a child missing and absent.
During the last year there were 723 missing episodes, this is an increase from 510 the previous year. However, the lower numbers the previous year was due to Covid lockdown and this years figures are quite normal in comparison to previous years. It was reported that 117 missing or absent episodes were for over 24 hours, again an increase from 81 the previous year.
It was confirmed that in-house residential missing episodes relate to a small cohort of young people, with one young person having 30 missing episodes.
For each missing episode a Return Home Interview (RHI) is offered. The RHI’s should be facilitated by an independent person ideally and it was confirmed that an independent RHI Support Worker has been in post for one year and has excellent engagement with the young people. Every young person is offered a RHI, not all take up this offer however there has been a significant increase in take up over the last year. The RHI Support Worker has a unique approach, her style is conversational so the young person does not feel that they are being interviewed. The young person also has a welfare check by police. The data from these interviews is collected and analysed to identify trends and ascertain the reasons and causes of missing episodes.
Over the last year 1018 RHI’s were offered, the number of interviews declined by the young person or their parent/carer was 18.37%, a reduction from 34.51% the previous year.
The RHI support worker works with those young people to support them at other CYPS appointments and develops relationships with them. #
It was confirmed that the age range of those going missing tends to be teens and older teens for over 24 hours. It was agreed that information about where the young people are going missing from would be included in the next annual report to the Board.
It was noted that the gaps in some of the data around placements was due to moving to a new computer system. It was confirmed that this data is now available and would be reflected in the next annual report.
RESOLVED - That the information provided in the report be noted.