It is important to recognise that children who go missing may be at risk of sexual exploitation. A high proportion of children nationally and in South Gloucestershire who are at risk of sexual exploitation have had at least one missing episode. Professionals need to have this in mind when thinking about and talking to children who have been missing from home, school or care. In South Gloucestershire every child who goes missing is offered an independent Return Home Interview (RHI). The professional completing the RHI will talk sensitively to the child and try to develop an understanding of the reasons behind the child’s missing episode. This will include an exploration of the push and pull factors. Attention should be paid as to whether there are other indicators that the child is at risk of sexual exploitation. If there are, either the independent RHI worker or the allocated social worker should complete a SERAF, if not already done so. If a child at risk of sexual exploitation also goes missing a Missing Management Meeting is likely to be required to make a clear plan around potential future missing episodes and to ensure appropriate information regarding vulnerabilities, information about possible whereabouts, contact details etc appear on the police database. If there is reasonable cause to suspect a child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm a strategy discussion must be convened.
Refer to the SGSCB protocol for missing children for further information at sites.southqlos.qov.uk/safequardinq/children