CELCIS has published Just out having a good time, an evaluation of the pilot project: Looked After Children Who Go Missing from Residential and Foster Care in Scotland - a National Partnership Agreement.
Young people in residential and foster care are often reported missing when, in fact, they have chosen to stay out later than planned and are often at no risk; they will not see themselves as missing, rather that they are simply having a good time. Repeated police-led missing person investigations can therefore result in these young people being stigmatised (sometimes, criminalisation of their actions too) for what is generally seen as typical behaviour among many young people.
Three Scottish local authorities, Dundee City Council, The City of Edinburgh Council and South Lanarkshire Council took part in a pilot project to look at this. The partners were chosen because they all had pre-existing protocols in place. Police Scotland compiled a data summary report which included information on the number of incidents of young people being reported missing from children's houses in the three pilot local authority areas. This partnership group then invited CELCIS to assist in the evaluation of the project and we worked with young people, police, residential staff, and others involved in the use of the Agreement.
The evaluation found that a key strength of the Partnership Agreement is the communication and the sharing of information between police and local authority partners in particular, but also between children's houses, and beyond. Return Interviews are recognised in the gathering of police intelligence, and for offering of support to the young person who had been missing.
The evaluation recommends adopting this partnership approach as best practice across Scotland.