What to do if your child is missing or has run away from home?
If your child is missing or has run away from home you must contact the Police. Dial 999 in an emergency situation or call 101.
Before contacting the Police:
- Go and check the bedroom and any other place where your child might be within the house or building.
- Check the garden, garage, sheds, grounds and surrounding area(s).
- Check with your child's friends, school, work, neighbours, relatives of anyone else or anyone else who may know of his/her whereabouts. Ask them to tell you immediately if they hear from your child.
- Try to contact your child directly via mobile phones, text, or social networking sites (such as BBM, Twitter, Facebook etc).
- If you know where your child is and you are still concerned for their safety (for example, they are at a house where you suspect criminal activities are taking place) you can ask the police to carry out a welfare check on that house or location.
Contacting the Police:
- Ring 999 or 101 or your local police telephone number once you have carried out the above checks, and still suspect that your child has disappeared.
- You do not need to wait for 24 hours, report straight away.
- When you first contact the police record the FWIN (a Greater Manchester Police crime report number) or log number. When an officer attends records their name, badge number and telephone number. Ask who will follow up the initial investigation.
You will then be asked the following questions:
- When and where was your child last seen? By who?
- When and where did you last see your child?
- What were they doing when last seen?
- What are your most pressing worries and why?
- Are these circumstances out of character for your child?
- Are they taking any medication(s) which they may need immediately?
Further questions may be asked at this time depending on the circumstances.
Your child will be classified as either MISSING or ABSENT and the call taker will explain the next steps. This is likely to include police officers attending your home to take a formal detailed Missing Person Report.
Other things you can do:
- Think about what your child was wearing when you last saw them. Have they taken any extra clothes?
- What have they taken with them, e.g. mobile phone, money, bank cards any special possessions of sentimental value?
- Find out if any of your child's friends are missing.
- Check home computers of leads such as online contacts and details of planned meetings.
- Have a recent photograph available (the police may need it).
- Keep a record of everyone you contact, including the date and time, the name of the person and/organisation, and any phone numbers received.
- Keep your phone on and keep a record of any calls, as this may be the only way your child knows how to reach you.
- Close the door to your child's room and don't touch anything in there.
- Check the telephone bills for the past few months for any unfamiliar calls.
When your child returns home:
Make follow-up phone calls: Let all your contacts know that your child has returned home, including the police. The police may need to speak or meet with your child to ensure they have returned safe and well.
Be happy that your child is back home safe: Many children fear the initial meeting with their parents. Remain calm, express relief and tell your child your love them and that together you will solve any problems.
Allow time to settle in: Your child may need a shower, a meal, clean clothes or to go to sleep.
Get medical attention: Visit your family doctor to address any medical concerns.
Talk with your child: Discuss how you can work together to prevent them from leaving again. Acknowledge that some problems take time and effort to resolve.
Get assistance and support: An independent organisation may follow-up with your child to see if they need more support. It is important to reach out and take advantage of any support available to your child, you and your family. Asking for help is a sign of strength and shows you are taking the issue seriously.