A child goes missing or runs ways form home or care every five minutes in the UK. Barnsley Council’s Targeted Youth Support Service works closely with the police to ensure that every Barnsley child who goes missing or runs away is listened to and gets the help they need to stay safe.
When a young person goes missing and is reported to police, a safe and well check is carried out when they are found. Following a report from the police, the council has statutory duty to offer a return home interview within 72 hours.
The return interview takes place with or without parents, at school or place of young person’s choice.
Return interviews provide an opportunity to hear from the young person why they ran away and to understand the risks and issues they experienced while they were away and identify any future risks. Some 269 interviews took place last year.
The return interview can help find out whether the young person: has gone missing or run away before and not been reported; has been frequently away from their home or placement without authorisation; has been hurt or harmed while they were away; has been at known or suspected risk of sexual exploitation or trafficking; has been at known or suspected risk of involvement in criminal activity or drugs; had contact with people who pose a risk to children; or ran away with anyone and where they ran to.
This conversation also helps the young person understand the risks of running away, how to seek help and where to get help in the future. Support includes referral to the council’s Early Help services or referral into Safe at Last who offer one to one and family support around being missing. Targeted Youth Support also offer mediation, drug and/or alcohol support or anything else that could have contributed to the young person going missing.
Young people who go missing while placed out of borough in care, are also visited by members of the Barnsley team at that location. If they are going missing over a period of time persistently, the same person will go out to see them, which, is fundamental in building that important relationship.
Cllr Margaret Bruff, Cabinet Spokesperson for People (Safeguarding) said: “The return interview meetings are impartial and it’s a voluntary engagement – this leads to young people feeling more comfortable to share information that’s troubling them . It’s all based on the needs of the young person.”
“The staff conducting the interview let the young people know that they are completely independent and that talking to them is voluntary. They let the young person know that they are not there to be told off or judged, just to get to the bottom of what might be troubling them and to offer help in providing a solution.”
More information about Barnsley Council’s Early help and targeted support for young people is available at www.barnsley.gov.uk