Children may run away from a problem, such as abuse or neglect at home, or to somewhere they want to be. They may have been coerced to run away by someone else. Whatever the reason, it is thought that approximately 25 per cent 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. (also drug running)
The Metropolitan police service, as the lead agency for investigating and finding missing children, will respond to children and young people going missing or being absent based on on-going risk assessments in line with current guidance. The police will prioritise all incidents of missing children as medium or high risk. The police definitions of ‘missing’ and ‘absent’ are:
Missing – Anyone whose whereabouts cannot be established and where the circumstances are out of character or the context suggests the person may be subject of crime or at risk of harm to themselves or another.
Absent – A person is not at a place where they are expected or required to be.