This policy is designed to be implemented in cases where students are believed to be absent or missing from the care of Bright World Guardianships. The purpose of the policy is to locate the student by the safest and fastest means possible
Bright World Guardianships Ltd is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people.
This policy is required to ensure that missing or absent students (who are not under the duty of care of the school), are subject to an appropriate response by Bright World. This is to ensure that children are found and returned to an approved location as soon as practicable.
The benefits of this policy are that all reports or missing/absent people will be recorded. The policy provides a model and framework for response and dealing with incidents dependent on the risk posed. This policy is applicable to all staff members who may become involved in the initial stages of a report of a missing child or young person.
Bright World will respond appropriately to reports of missing and absent persons. Every report risk will be assessed so that those who are vulnerable or represent a high risk will be immediately identified. This process shall be on-going, dynamic and supervised in each and every case with a focus on locating the person safely and mitigating any risk posed to others. Where criminality is associated with either the initial disappearance or subsequent harbouring of those who wish to remain absent, this will be reported to the police.
Bright World’s adoption of distinct definitions to determine whether someone is missing or absent is in accordance with the National Police Chiefs Council definitions (issued by ACPO in 2013).
The following definitions are included within the Local Safeguarding Children Board protocols:
Absent – a child or young person is not at a place where they are expected or required to be and there is no apparent risk
Missing – a child or young person 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.
Supporting Reference Documents:
Safeguarding Children and Young People from CSE 2009
Scoping Report on Missing and Abducted Children – CEOP
Local Safeguarding Children Board Protocols – Reporting children who go missing from care
Statutory Guidance on children who run away or go missing from home or care – Department of Education 2014
This workflow applies when a young person is absent (they are not where they are supposed to be but there is no apparent risk) or when they are missing (unexpected and uncharacteristic absence which causes concern for their safety). It applies when they are under the care of Bright World during journeys around the UK organised by us or at a host family.
The DSL (Lana Foster) or Deputy DSL (Jenny Rumble), shall manage any cases of absent or missing children or young people, and as such all reports must be bought to the attention of the DSL or Deputy DSL.
If a child or young person goes missing out of hours and receives a report then the on duty manger is responsible for ensuring the completion of the initial reasonable enquiries where a student is absent/missing during an event (for example half term, exeat or during a suspension/expulsion) which will include:
- if appropriate, reviewing the flight and transfer details (with communication to the airline and transfer company to confirm transport arrangements for the student)
- texting, emailing and phoning the student (leaving a message if no answer) asking them to make contact with the on duty Bright World Manager and repeating this contact every 30 minutes
- texting, emailing and phoning the house parent to collate any relevant information about the whereabouts of the student – this is only possible if the houseparent is at school.
- texting, emailing and phoning the parent/agent to collate any relevant information about the whereabouts of the student
- texting, emailing and phoning the host family to collate any relevant information about the whereabouts of the student
- texting, emailing and phoning the LC to collate any relevant information about the whereabouts of the student, along with any contact details we may not be aware of
- review of information held on IBOS which may indicate friends or associates who the student may be with
Any member of staff may report a child or young person as absent or missing to the police where they have genuine concerns for their safety.
Following a risk assessment the receiving police force will record a report of absent or missing where there are grounds to do so. In cases of missing children or young people, the police will work cooperatively with Children’s Social Care staff during any enquiry.
The incident lead is responsible for ensuring the school is informed of any report made to the police of an absent or missing child or young person, as the school retains the overall duty of care.
The school should be updated with any developments as they should know the whereabouts of the student at all times, especially those on Visas.
The incident lead is responsible for ensuring that the parents/agent are informed of any report made to the police of an absent or missing child or young person. The parents/agent should be regularly updated (recommended a minimum of every 4 hours) with any development. This is to ensure they are fully informed as to the situation involving their son or daughter.
All missing person reports are to be reviewed by a member of the Bright World Senior Management Team as soon as practicable with subsequent on-going daily review until the incident is resolved.
Process and Response – Report of a missing child
1. A child or young person who falls into the ‘Missing’ Category must be reported to the police as soon as possible by telephoning 101 for a non-emergency report or 999 for an emergency response i.e. information received that a child or young person is in immediate danger of harm.
YOU WILL NEED TO ENSURE THAT YOU ARE TRANSFERRED TO THE FORCE RELEVANT TO THE AREA THE CHILD IS MISSING/ABSENT FROM. IF CALLING 999 YOU WILL NEED TO TELL THE CALL HANDLER TO STAY ON THE LINE, WHILE YOU ARE TRANSFERRED TO THE RELEVANT FORCE.
2. The DSL or Deputy DSL will ensure that the following information is gathered by the Guardianship Care Manager for the initial report to the police:
• Name, date of birth and nationality of the child or young person
• The specific concern for the child or young person
• Are they likely to be subjected to crime, victim of abuse or at risk of sexual exploitation
• Is the child or young person likely to attempt suicide?
• Is the child or young person likely to pose a danger to other people?
• Actions completed so far to locate the child or young person
• A description of the child or young person, including their build, hair, clothing and glasses;
• Details of when the child or young person was last seen and with whom;
• Personal details of the child or young person (including any medical conditions or ailments);
• Any previous history of absconding/absenteeism and circumstances of where found;
• The circumstances under which the child or young person is absent;
• Any factors which increase the risk to the child or young person;
• Host Family address;
Information that may be needed later to extend investigations if the young person is not located:
• A recent photograph (if available);
• Family addresses and contact telephone numbers;
• Known associates, telephone numbers and addresses frequented;
• The names and addresses of the child or young person’s GP and dentist;
• The circumstances under which the child or young person is absent;
• Any factors which increase the risk to the child or young person;
• School and House Parent addresses and contact details
• Details of any Travel and Accommodation plans authorised by the overseas parents
• Details of any social media accounts that may be open to the public, including any research by the Bright World Chinese and Russian Counsellors into sites in the student’s country of origin
• Bright World students are advised to download the SafeKnight tracking app, which is accessible by the police, so they should be advised there is a possibility the student is using this
3. The incident must be recorded as on the Guardianship Student Record as an ‘Incident’ with regular updates being added until the matter has been resolved, and if a police report has been made, the police incident reference number must be recorded. All emails should be sent from the incident.
4. Following the report to the police, the parents, the agent, school, host family and Local Coordinator must be informed (if not already aware) and requested to contact Head Office staff without delay if the child or young person makes contact.
Process and Response – Report of an absent child
1. If a child or young person is considered to fall within the definition of absent, the decision to record the child as such, together with the evidence supporting that decision must be recorded. The absence of a child or young person must be recorded in the IBOS Guardianship Student Record as an ‘incident’.
2. Details of children or young people who are absent should still be notified to the police (using the non-emergency telephone number 101 or the emergency telephone number 999) in order that a record of the child or young person’s absence can be made, an agreement can be reached on what needs to be done, review times and on-going actions. Although there is an expectation that Bright World should continue to make reasonable enquiries to locate the child or young person, the police may also initiate some enquiries as appropriate.
3. The Guardianship Care Manager (GCM) (On Duty Manager) and the Incident Lead will notify the school and parents/agent of the incident, and regularly provide updates to both parties (minimum every 4 hours) with news of any developments, or confirmation that there have been no developments since the last update. This also affords an opportunity for the school or parents/agent to update the GCM/Incident Lead with any contact they may have had from the student or other information received. All updates provided to the school and parents/agent must be recorded in the incident record in IBOS.
4. Bright World staff will constantly review the circumstances in the light of any enquiries made or information received, and inform the police of any developments by telephoning 101, quoting the reference number and providing the new information received. If the period of absence continues for six hours, consideration should be given as to whether the child should still be regarded as absent, or whether they should now be considered as missing. Six hours should be regarded as the maximum period before reconsideration, and in many cases a shorter period would be more appropriate.
5. Any case of an absent child or young person which causes significant concern, or gives rise to the suspicion of harm, should be brought to the attention of the Designated or Deputy Safeguarding Leads without delay and should be reviewed with a view to the possibility that this is a missing child or young person.
Informing the media
The Police are responsible for advising the media regarding children or young people who are reported as missing. The decision to publicise these matters will always be made in consultation with the parents who have to give their signed consent before the media are able to circulate the details. As such, no member of Bright World should release any details to the media and must refer any contact from them directly to the relevant force’s Media Relations Office.
1. The police are responsible for ensuring that the child or young person reported missing has returned safe and well, and has an opportunity to disclose any relevant issues in the return interview.
2. Where a child or young person has been reported as absent to the police they will not be given a return interview. In such cases, a Bright World member of staff will conduct the return interview to allow the child or young person an opportunity to talk to someone about their absence. This is likely to be the Local Co-ordinator or member of Head Office staff as they are independent of the school or host family.
3. Where an allegation of any form of child abuse is made or becomes evident, child protection procedures must be implemented and immediate contact must be made with the police child protection team and the Local Authority Child Protection Service where the child is living.
4. If there is any suggestion that the child has been a victim or perpetrator of crime, consideration must be given to securing evidence by police including by forensic examination. This should also include securing clothing and delaying washing/bathing in relevant cases. Staff must remember that all necessary permissions must be obtained from the child or young person’s parents and/or those with parental responsibility. The priority is to recognise that the welfare of the child or young person is paramount and careful consideration must be given to the potential effects of such procedures of the child or young person.
5. Any persons informed of the child or young person’s absence should be advised of the child or young person’s return without delay including the school and parent/agent.
6. For a child or young person who has been reported as absent or missing on two or more occasions, Bright World will decide in consultation with others, whether a formal review of the guardianship is required.
Published: April 2016
Reviewed: February 2021