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How can I safeguard a missing child?

A child or young person will be considered missing if he / she is absent from their home or placement and:

  • their whereabouts are unknown or can't be established 

  • their behavior is out of character and/or

  • their vulnerability means that there is a cause to be concerned for their welfare or safety. 

An 'unauthorised absence' does not mean the child or young person is missing. It is when the whereabouts of the child are known but this has not been authorised. Those which cause concern are where:

  • there are concerns about the safety of the child

  • there is no indication that the child is likely to return within a reasonable period of time; and

  • there appears to be immediate risk to the child

Children and young people who regularly go missing from home or care have been found to be at significant increased risk of:

  • becoming involved in crime to survive, from stealing to criminal gang involvement;

  • sexual exploitation and abuse

  • drug and alcohol misuse

  • mental and sexual health issues

  • exclusion from school and failure to meet educational milestones

Support and Resources



If a child is at immediate risk of significant harm, please dial 999.

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Make a referral

Please call or email and follow up with a Multi-agency Referral Form.

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Child Trafficking Advice

Refer to the London Child Protection procedures to safeguard children missing from care, home, or education. 

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For more information and guidance, get in touch with Lambeth's Missing Coordinator, Emily Wareham. 

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Missing People provides services and information for professionals working with young people who are missing. 

Services for Professionals

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Refer to the DfE's statutory guidance on children who run away or go missing from home or care. (January 2014)

Statutory Guidance


Exploitation Risk Matrix

Use the Lambeth Child Exploitation Risk Matrix to help identify and clarify concerns and actions.

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