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Contextual safeguarding

Children missing from home, care or education

When a child goes missing or runs away they are at risk. Safeguarding children therefore includes protecting them from this risk. Local authorities are responsible for protecting children whether they go missing from their family home or from local authority care.

Children may run away from a problem such as abuse, neglect, being challenged at home or they may run away to somewhere they want to be and/or someone they want to be with. In some cases, they may have been coerced into running away by someone else and there are clear links between children running away/going missing and child sexual and child criminal exploitation.

The risks faced by young people are the same regardless of how often they have run away from home. However, younger children and those who run away or go missing often may be more likely to face serious, long-term problems.

The immediate risks associated with running away/going missing, include:

  • no means of support or legitimate income - leading to high risk activities
  • possible involvement in criminal activities
  • becoming a victim of crime, for example through sexual assault and exploitation
  • alcohol and substance misuse
  • deterioration of physical and mental/emotional health
  • loss of education and training
  • inappropriate/manipulative/exploitive relationships
  • being drawn into county lines/criminal exploitation

Longer-term risks include:

  • substance dependency
  • involvement in crime
  • involvement in sexual/criminal exploitation into adulthood
  • homelessness

Children who go missing from Education

All children, regardless of their circumstances, are entitled to a full time education. Children missing education are at significant risk of underachieving, being victims of abuse, and becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training) later on in life.

Situations in which children may be at risk of becoming missing from education include:

  • he or she leaves school without their parents/carers giving details of their new school
  • the destination school given by the parent/carer has not received the pupil
  • a child fails to start at a school that has agreed to admit the child or that the child has been allocated a place at
  • parents/carers are unsure of the pupil’s new school
  • he or she has stopped attending without the school receiving any notification
  • schools and local authorities have a duty to undertake reasonable enquiries to establish the whereabouts of children who are at risk of missing education

Schools must notify the local authority when a pupil’s name is to be removed from the admission register at a non-standard transition point

If you have any concerns that a child may be missing from education please contact email: [email protected].

Operation Endeavour

Operation Endeavour is a joint operation between City of York Children’s Services and North Yorkshire Police to safeguard children and young people at risk of harm from going missing.

Operation Endeavour aims to support children and young people who go missing from home. Children who go missing from home are at risk of significant harm and they may be vulnerable to sexual exploitation, violent crime, gang exploitation, or to drug and alcohol misuse. As a result, following any report of a child going missing to the Police, the Police will contact Children’s Social Care who will then communicate relevant and necessary information to nominated school staff of that child’s school.

The sharing of this valuable information allows school staff to be well informed and provide the right support to young people at the right time.

10 things you should know about Operation Endeavour

  1. Operation Endeavour is a joint operation between City of York Council and North Yorkshire Police to safeguard children and young people at risk of harm from going missing
  2. The Department for Education statutory guidance children who run away or go missing from home or care states:
    • that approximately 25% of children and young people that go  missing are at risk of serious harm;
    • there are particular concerns about the links between children running away and the risks of sexual exploitation;
    • missing children may also be vulnerable to other forms of exploitation, to violent crime, gang exploitation, or to drug and alcohol misuse.
  3. There are a range of reasons why children and young people go missing, these include:
    • conflict, abuse and neglect- more than half of missing children have experienced this at home and 1 in 5 children felt forced to leave because of it;
    • sexual exploitation - 7 in 10 young people who have been sexually exploited have also been reported missing;
    • mental health issues- at least 1 in 10 missing children had mental health issues.
  4. Operation Endeavour Process:
    1. Police receive a report that a young person has been reported missing/,/li>
    2. Police share details of missing child with Children’s Social Care
    3. Children’s Social Care take any further action if appropriate
    4. Children’s Social Care notify school key contacts via email
    5. School informs relevant staff
    6. Young person supported as needed when they return.
  5. School Actions
    • Inform parents that the school is part of Operation Endeavour
    • Consider school prospectus and website awareness
    • Check your mailbox for any Operation Endeavour emails
    • Operation Endeavour information must be secured to ensure that information remains confidential
    • Key Adult to inform the Police if the young person arrives at school when they are still believed to be missing.
    • Support Police and Children’s Services to locate the child.
    • If young people are in alternative provision the DSL of the school should inform the DSL at the provision of the issues raised.
  6. Ongoing support after missing episode
    • Monitor the child’s wellbeing.
    • If appropriate, speak to the child when they return and share relevant information with social care/police
    • Help the child make sense of the way they are feeling and behaving
    • Help the child to identify strengths and develop coping strategies
    • Go at the child’s pace; follow their lead
    • Acknowledge what they’ve been through or what they are going through
  7. The local authority procedure for dealing with children missing is a joint protocol between North Yorkshire Police and York Children's Services: Missing From Home Joint Protocol
  8. Please share any relevant information using the partnership information sharing form
  9. Useful information and resources:
  10. For further advice and guidance contact

Useful Links and information