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An update on children's and young people's health: missing children and adults; a cross government strategy published by the home office.

This strategy focuses primarily on England and Wales and is aimed at all statutory and voluntary services. Around 200 000 people go missing every year and two-thirds of these are children and young people. Nearly all are found quickly or return voluntarily, but 2000 people remain missing after a year and some are found dead.

It is estimated that four out of every five adults who go missing are experiencing mental health problems. The most frequent reason for children and young people to go missing is 'problems at home'. There are others who are trafficked or groomed online for sexual exploitation, and some who are abducted by family members locked in custodial battles. Responsibility for missing children in the UK lies with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre. Legislation for prevention and support services lies with local authorities.

There are three strategic objectives that are meant to translate into effective local multi-agency strategy:

* Prevention: to reduce the number of people who go missing. The police have a key role in providing a picture of what 'missing' looks like in their area. Local Safeguarding Children's and Adult's Boards should provide opportunities for partners to agree action to mitigate risk of people going missing from high-risk locations (eg, children's homes, mental health services and elder care facilities).

* Protection: reduce the risk of harm caused to those who go missing. Some young people who go missing are victims of child sexual exploitation, and research shows that those who repeatedly go missing are more likely to be victims. Both the English and Welsh governments have recently developed guidance for professionals and volunteers from all agencies.

* Provision: provide missing people and their families with support and guidance by signposting them to voluntary organisations that are trusted by young people and can work across professional boundaries.

In summary, this strategy aims to persuade all agencies to work together to better protect and support missing people and their families.

Visit: police/missing-persons-strategy

Ros Godson

Professional Officer for School Health and Public Health, Unite
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Title Annotation:ASSOCIATION
Author:Godson, Ros
Publication:Community Practitioner
Date:Feb 1, 2012
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