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Missing Children (1179_15)


I am writing to request information under the Freedom of Information Act on how your police force has implemented the Association of Chief Police Officers(ACPO) definitions of `missing’ and `absent’ people in relation to children aged under 18-years-old.


  1. Does your police force use separate definitions of `missing’ and `absent’ children? (Yes/No)


  1. If you do use separate definitions, please tell us when you introduced them. If not, do you plan to introduce them in the future?


  1. Please fill in the table with the number of children under 18-years-old registered as missing or absent in the last four quarters. If information on the number of children is not available, please provide information on the number of episodes related to children under the age of 18. Please specify whether this represents the number of episodes recorded or the number of children who were classified as absent or missing



  1. What procedures do you have in place to share data on a) missing and b) absent children with other agencies? Please specify whether information is shared at the time the child is `absent’ or `missing’ or after the case is closed.


  1. Under what circumstances can a child under the age of 18 be classified as `absent’ in your police force?  If there is a policy in place on `absent’ children, please enclose it.


  1. Do you have set questions for staff in your call centre/command and control centre to ask to assess a child as `missing’ or `absent’? Please enclose the set of questions used for risk assess cases reported to the police where a child has run away or went missing


  1. Do you have a policy to monitor and reassess the status of a child defined as absent after a period of time? If so how frequently would you make a reassessment and who would carry it out?


  1. Is there a maximum period of time that a case can be classified as `absent¿ before being upgraded to `missing’?


  1. What was the longest period of time that an individual child was classified as `absent’ in the last year in your police force?


  1. What is the average length of time cases remain classified as `absent’ in your police force area?


  1. What was the highest number of times an individual child was classified as `absent’ in the last year?


  1. For children who have been recorded as absent what is the average number of times they have been classified as absent for in the last 12 month?


  1. Do you share information with the following agencies on individual missing and absent episodes?

Missing children               Absent children

  1. Your forces own CSE Co-ordinator or equivalent (Yes/No)
  2. Children’s residential homes (Yes/No)
  3. Children’s social care (Yes/No)
  4. Education professionals (Yes/No)
  5. The local multi-agency safeguarding hub or other multi-agency structure (Yes/No)
  6. Third sector organisations in your area (Yes/No)
  7. Other (please specify)


  1. Do children classified as `absent’ receive a safe and well check on return?


  1. Do Missing Persons Coordinators or their equivalent regularly review decisions to record a child as `absent’ or `missing’?



Missing Persons co-ordinators have now been moved onto the CSE investigations. Force CID deal with High Risk Missing Persons. Neighbourhood teams now investigate missing incidents and each LPU appoints a Missing Persons Officer either daily or for a period of time depending on their circumstances. The Duty Inspector decides on the course of action regarding review decisions, in conjunction with their LPU management if needed.


West Midlands Police Policy regarding the management and recording of absent and missing persons stipulates that every recorded incident of a missing person requires a Police officer to complete full risk assessment and attend every location from where a person is reported missing, to commence an investigation into the circumstance of the disappearance.  This is in line ACPO (2013) guidance on the Management, Recording and Investigation of Missing People.


In short every incident will require a Police officer to be despatched even if they return before we arrive (in which case there is still a requirement to attend and check that they have returned safe and well).


‘Absent’ children are dealt with by each individual Local Policing Unit and are not recorded on a central system and we are also unable to provide separate information relating to ‘foster care’ children.


Therefore, the cost of compliance with your request is above the amount to which we are legally required to respond, i.e. the cost of locating and retrieving the information would exceed the appropriate costs limit under section 12 of the Freedom of information Act 2000. For West Midlands Police, the appropriate limit is set at £450, as prescribed by the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004, S.I. 3244.


A public authority which, in relation to any request for information, is relying on a claim that section 12 or section 14 applies must, within the time for complying with Section 1(1), give the applicant a notice stating that fact. In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, this letter acts as a refusal notice.


Although excess cost removes the force’s obligations under the Freedom of Information Act, as a gesture of goodwill I have supplied information, relative to your request, retrieved before it was realised that the fees limit would be exceeded see below. I trust this is helpful, but it does not affect our legal right to rely on the fees regulations for the remainder of the request.


Please note that these data are the closest we hold to your request. They should not be interpreted as representing anything other than as described in this response.


Q3– Missing children data only


April-June 2014


(a) 374 missing from home. (b) 167 missing from care. (c) 70 from other locations.


July-Sept 2014


(a) 469 missing from home. (b) 270 missing from care. (c) 69 other.


Oct -Dec 2014


(a) 526 missing from home (b) 303 missing from care (c) 66 other.


Jan-March 2015


  • 566 missing from home (b) 352 missing from care (c) 90 other.



Our system sends an automatic e-mail referral upon completion of the missing report, when a child goes missing from care, to the local authority. It is triggered by age and when the child goes missing from care and the local authority address contained within the missing report.


Other useful information is contained within the following websites


Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from a number of data sources used by forces for police purposes. The detail collected to respond specifically to your request is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when interpreting those data.


The figures provided therefore are our best interpretation of relevance of data to your request, but you should be aware that the collation of figures for ad hoc requests may have limitations and this should be taken into account when those data are used.


If you decide to write an article / use the enclosed data we would ask you to take into consideration the factors highlighted in this document so as to not mislead members of the public or official bodies, or misrepresent the relevance of the whole or any part of this disclosed material.


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