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1.5 Missing child


Policy statement


Children’s safety is our highest priority, both on and off the premises. Every attempt is made, through the implementation of our supervision of children on outings procedure, to ensure the security of children is maintained at all times. In the unlikely event of a child going missing, our missing child procedure is followed.



Child going missing on the premises

  • As soon as it is noticed that a child is missing, the relevant member of staff alerts our setting manager.

  • The register is checked to make sure no other child has also gone astray.

  • Our manager will carry out a thorough search of the building and garden.

  • Doors and gates are checked to see if there has been a breach of security whereby a child could wander out.

  • If the child is not found, our manager calls the police immediately and reports the child as missing. If it is suspected that the child may have been abducted, the police are also informed of this.

  • The parent(s) are then called and informed.

  • A recent photo and a note of what the child is wearing is given to the police.

  • Our manager talks to our staff to find out when and where the child was last seen and records this.

  • Our manager contacts our chair and reports the incident. Our chair person, or other committee member comes to the provision immediately to carry out an investigation, with our manager.

  • In the event of a child going missing on the premises, all other children present will sit down in the quiet corner with at least two members of staff.  They will remain distracted while the search continues.


Off-site (outing or walk)

  • As soon as it is noticed that a child is missing, the senior staff present carries out a headcount.

  • One member of staff searches the immediate vicinity.

  • If the child is not found, the senior staff calls the police and then contacts the designated person.

  •  The designated person informs the parents.

  • Members of staff return the children to the setting as soon as possible if it is safe to do so. According to the advice of the police, one senior member of staff should remain at the site where the child went missing and wait for the police to arrive.

  • The designated person contacts the designated officer, who attends the setting.


The investigation

  • Ofsted are informed as soon as possible and kept up to date with the investigation.

  • Our chair, carries out a full investigation, taking written statements from all our staff and volunteers who were present.

  • Our manager, together with a representative of our management committee speaks with the parent(s) and explains the process of the investigation.

  • The parent(s) may also raise a complaint with us or Ofsted.

  • Each member of staff present writes an incident report detailing:

  • The date and time of the incident.

  • Where the child went missing from e.g., the setting or an outing venue.

  • Which staff/children were in the premises/on the outing and the name of the staff member or designated carer who was designated as responsible for the missing child.

  • When the child was last seen in the premises/or on the outing, including the time it is estimated that the child went missing.

  • What has taken place in the premises or on the outing since the child went missing.

  • The report is counter-signed by the senior member of staff and the date and time added.

  • A conclusion is drawn as to how the breach of security happened.

  • If the incident warrants a police investigation, all our staff co-operate fully. In this case, the police will handle all aspects of the investigation, including interviewing staff and parents. Children’s social care may be involved if it seems likely that there is a child protection issue to address.

  • In the event of disciplinary action needing to be taken, Ofsted are advised.

  • The insurance provider is informed.


Managing people
  • Missing child incidents are very worrying for all concerned. Part of managing the incident is to try to keep everyone as calm as possible.

  • Our staff will feel worried about the child, especially the key person or the designated carer responsible for the safety of that child for the outing. They may blame themselves and their feelings of anxiety and distress will rise as the length of time the child is missing increases.

  • They may be the understandable target of parental anger and they may be afraid. Our manager ensures that any staff under investigation are not only fairly treated but receive support while feeling vulnerable.

  • The parents will feel angry, and fraught. They may want to blame our staff and may single out one staff member over others; they may direct their anger at our manager. When dealing with a distraught and angry parent, there should always be two members of staff, one of whom is our manager as well as the chairperson, or other representative of our committee. No matter how understandable the parent’s anger may be, aggression or threats against our staff are not tolerated, and the police will be called.

  • The other children are also sensitive to what is going on around them. They too may be worried. Our remaining staff caring for them need to be focused on their needs and must not discuss the incident in front of them. They should answer children’s questions honestly, but also reassure them.

  • In accordance with the severity of the final outcome, our staff may need counselling and support. If a child is not found, or is injured, or worse, this will be a very difficult time. Our chair will use their discretion to decide what action to take.

  • Our staff must not discuss any missing child incident with the press without taking advice.

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