Advice for parents and guardians
There are numerous reasons that can lead to a child going missing or running away. As a parent or carer for a child or young person, you play a really important role in helping them to stay safe.
You can find some helpful information below or download the complete Parents and Carers Advice pack for advice on helping to keep your child safe.
My child is missing / has run away (Parents Section)
Children run away for a number of reasons, on most occasions they return home safely. However, if your child is missing or has run away from home, you must contact the police. Dial 999 in an emergency situation or call your local police force immediately on 101 (or you can find details of your local force at: www.police.uk)
The organisations below can help put you in touch with support, advice and information, but always remember to inform the police.
Getting in touch with local services:
- Missing People: The ‘Turn2 Directory’ can put you in touch with support services in your area. You can find this online or call them for free on 116 000.
- Local Police: Call 101 for your local police force.
- Missing People: Offer 24 hour support, advice and practical help if you are affected by a child going missing from home. You can contact them for free on 116 000, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
My child has been abducted - (Parental Child Abduction)
This occurs when a parent or relative, or someone acting on their behalf, removes a child from approved custody or violates their custody agreement. Parental child abduction is a criminal offence. If you believe that your child has been or is at risk of being abducted or, if your child has been taken overseas without your consent, call the police immediately.
If your child is taken abroad, the Hague Convention states that the country the child is taken to must respect the custody decision of the country of origin. This principle is upheld by all countries that have ratified the convention, including the UK. If you think your child has been taken to a country outside the Hague Convention, then there are official channels within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
Help and advice:
- Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO): Their child abduction unit can be contacted on 020 7008 0878, Monday to Friday (09:30 to 17:00), or another member of consular staff out of hours on 020 7008 1500.
- The Ministry of Justice International Child Abduction and Contact Unit: Their website offers information on action to take if you think your child is at risk of abduction and a list of specialist solicitors. They can also be contacted on 020 7911 7127, Monday to Friday (09:00 to 17:00).
- Reunite: Their helpline offers advice, information and support concerning all issues related to international parental child abduction, prevention of abduction, international contact issues, and cases of permission to remove a child from the jurisdiction. They can be reached on +44 (0) 1162 556 234.
- Parents and Abducted Children Together (PACT): Their website hosts a variety of advice and guidelines for parents.
Someone to talk to
- Parentline: Provides a confidential advice and listening service for parents that provides help and support in all aspects of family life. You can call on 0808 800 2222, email, or have a live online chat with a trained support worker.
- NSPCC: Provides a helpline for adults who are concerned about the safety or welfare of a child. You can also call them on 0808 800 5000.
- Missing People: Their website publicises cases of missing children. You can explore uploading the details of your child with your local police force.
- Samaritans: Offer a confidential listening service 08457 909090.
- Reunite offer a mediation service for families to resolve issues, this can be found at +44 (0) 1162 556 234.