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Publication - Publication

National Missing Persons Framework for Scotland

Published: 10 May 2017
Part of:
Law and order
ISBN:
9781786529565

Document providing a focus for all agencies with an interest in missing people to work together.

52 page PDF

2.6MB

52 page PDF

2.6MB

Contents
National Missing Persons Framework for Scotland
Annex E: Implementation Plan

52 page PDF

2.6MB

Annex E: Implementation Plan

National Multi-Agency Response

Action

Objective(s)

Delivery bodies

Framework Reference

Timescale

Comment

1.1: Develop or strengthen local multi-agency partnership working in all 32 local authority areas across Scotland.

I. To ensure missing people are treated as a priority by all agencies.

II. To establish appropriate information sharing protocols to effectively support work with missing people and those at risk of going missing.

III. Development of strategies to safeguard vulnerable people and prevent missing episodes recognising that these strategies need to be tailored to respond to local circumstances.

IV. Identify a missing persons 'champion' for each partnership.

All agencies working with missing persons including, but not limited to:

  • Local Authorities
  • Police Scotland
  • Education Services
  • NHS Scotland
  • Health Boards
  • Third Sector organisations

Section:

Local partnerships in place with designated 'champion' by January 2018.

The Framework acknowledges the importance of the roles each agency has to safeguard vulnerable people.

In each local area the development of multi-agency working focussed on the needs of individual missing people will improve partnerships and awareness of the vulnerability of being missing. Fulfilling this action will ensure that appropriate information sharing takes place to safeguard people who have gone missing and prevent people going missing in the first place.

Prevention

Commitment:

2

1.2: All agencies adopt the national definition of missing persons and incorporate this into their work.

I. To support the building of a common understanding between all agencies so that language, jargon and terminology does not act as a barrier to working effectively and collaboratively for the benefit of missing people.

II. To have a single overarching definition which will form the basis for building a common understanding.

III. To achieve greater clarity when making an assessment on whether someone should be categorised as having gone missing.

All agencies working with missing persons including but not limited to:

  • Police Scotland
  • Education Services
  • NHS Scotland
  • Local Authorities
  • Care Inspectorate
  • Third Sector organisations

Section:

Agencies incorporated national definition by May 2018.

The definition is included within the Framework to create clarity and understanding between agencies.

Introduction

Commitment:

4

PREVENTION

2.1: As part of the care plan for vulnerable children and adults, a risk assessment should be carried out to assess the likelihood of the individual going missing. Where appropriate, this assessment should recommend actions that can be taken to help to prevent the individual from going missing.

I. To identify those at risk of going missing as early as possible so that appropriate and constructive interventions can be made to prevent this wherever possible.

II. To record information which may assist in the speedy location of a vulnerable individual if they do go missing.

III. Reduce the overall risk of people going missing thereby improving the long-term outcomes for them by minimising their exposure to risk.

Agencies responsible for care plans with vulnerable children and adults including:

  • Care Inspectorate
  • Local Authority adult and child care and protection teams
  • NHS Scotland

Section:

Processes for incorporating risk of going missing into care plans should be completed by May 2018.

Whilst we must find effective ways to ensure we are delivering the best outcomes for missing people, our ultimate goal must be to try and prevent people from going missing in the first place, and thereby ensuring that they do not become exposed to risks which could reduce their life outcomes.

A preventative approach has to be centred on the individual to deliver person-centred planning, and we must maintain a focus on those most at risk - vulnerable children and adults. Safeguarding their wellbeing needs to continue to be built into existing frameworks and developed to improve outcomes wherever possible.

Prevention

Commitment:

1

2.2: Development of our understanding of local issues and circumstances which may impact on people going missing through a multi-agency partnership approach to this issue.

I. To recognise that local factors, which are often difficult to recognise or understood when considering this issue from a national perspective, can have a major influence on an individual's decision to go missing, and to ensure these are identified and taken into account when considering appropriate support for a missing person.

II. To help understand the extent to which local circumstances influence an individual to go missing frequently or regularly.

III. To identify geographical areas where there are particular issues with missing people and how these could be addressed.

A leading organisation, possibly with an academic background, should collate all of the available data about missing people across Scotland and use this to develop the first reliable data on missing people across Scotland and the factors which may influence variance across the country.

Local organisations which can then use this data to improve local delivery include:

  • Police Scotland
  • Local authorities
  • Third sector organisations

Section:

Initial gathering of information and data analysis to be completed by January 2018.

We need to develop our understanding of missing people and why they go missing if we are to effectively prevent them or others from going missing in the future.

Specifically, we need to know why some locations appear to have a disproportionately high number of people going missing and whether the factors that have influenced this are common across the country or are entirely local - in other words, does a specific circumstance in one area have a negative impact in a specific area and not others?

Through building up local pictures of missing people we can both better understand the apparent discrepancies in levels of recorded missing events, build a better national picture based on this information and understand what works where and why.

Prevention

Commitment:

2

RESPOND

3.1: All agencies develop and incorporate a standardised approach to risk assessment based on the terminology of 'low, medium and high' levels of risk.

I. To achieve a standardise approach to assessing and measuring risk which is appropriate and proportionate to the individual who has gone missing and the particular circumstances in which they went missing.

II. To support the building of a common understanding between all agencies so that language, jargon and terminology does not act as a barrier to working effectively and collaboratively for the benefit of missing people.

III. To ensure that an appropriate response can be developed to each missing person which is specifically tailored to them and their particular needs.

Police Scotland has a specific role in helping other agencies to develop their understanding of appropriate assessment and categorisation of risk to achieve a more uniform approach to risk assessment.

All agencies working with missing persons have an interest including, but not limited to:

  • Education Services
  • NHS Scotland
  • Local Authorities
  • Care Inspectorate
  • Third Sector organisations

Section:

Agencies to work with Police Scotland to develop a more standardised approach to risk assessment and incorporate this into their working practices by May 2018.

Directly linked to standardisation of missing persons definition is risk assessment.

The effective assessment of potential risk is a critical element when managing missing person investigations.

The Framework describes risk assessment levels used in Police Scotland pilots and proposes these are used by all agencies when assessing risk of a missing person to create clear understanding between agencies and ensure appropriate response to all missing persons.

Introduction

Commitment:

4

3.2: Support the delivery of a multi-agency partnership approach through the development of an appropriate data sharing protocol, or strengthening of an existing data sharing protocol.

Such protocols should be specific to each of the 32 local authority area partnerships and should seek to remove all restrictions which prevent effective working with missing people and those vulnerable to going missing.

I. To recognise that effective services and support can only be achieved if relevant information is shared between partners to allow them to work effectively together.

II. To also recognise that data sharing has to be undertaken within the boundaries of appropriate legislation and therefore clear understanding of what can and cannot be shared between partners needs to be clearly understood.

III. To ensure that there are no blockages or delays to sharing appropriate data between partners for the purpose of achieving the best outcomes for missing people and those at risk of going missing.

All partners in local multi-agency partnerships, including:

  • Local Authorities
  • Police Scotland
  • Education Services
  • NHS Scotland
  • Health Boards
  • Third Sector organisations

Any other local agencies involved in the safeguarding of vulnerable people.

Section:

All 32 multi-agency partnerships to have protocols in place by May 2018.

Our approach to delivering positive outcomes for missing people and those at risk of going missing needs to centre around the individual themselves and to achieve this all agencies involved need to continue to share data responsibly with a view to ensuring that there are no hindrances to doing this which could negatively impact on the outcome for the individual.

There is no doubt that appropriate information sharing helps to safeguard vulnerable people from going missing and ensures that they can be located as quickly as possible when they have gone missing.

Respond

Commitment:

3

3.3: A review of the outcomes of the three pilot projects run by Police Scotland needs to be undertaken and recommendations made on what learning could be applied either Scotland-wide or within individual local authority areas on an individual basis.

I. To achieve better outcomes for missing people we need to develop, adapt and implement the learning from different approaches that have been tried to support missing people and those at risk of going missing.

II. This learning will help to ensure that appropriate responses are made to all instances of people going missing.

III. Additionally, applying this learning across Scotland, whenever appropriate, will help us to achieve standardised delivery of service and bring everyone up to the standard of best practice.

Police Scotland should lead on the dissemination of information gathered through the pilots. Agencies involved in learning from the pilot evaluations include:

  • Local authorities
  • Care Inspectorate
  • NHS Scotland

Section:

Information and learning from the pilots to be disseminated by May 2018.

Police Scotland has run three pilot schemes with partner agencies which have looked at missing people in relation to:

  • Looked after children that go missing from residential and foster care.
  • Patients who go missing from NHS care
  • Adults who go missing from carte settings.

The learning from these pilots is being fully evaluated and will provide us with information on how we can improve services and support to deliver improved outcomes.

The protocols used in these pilots should be discussed between Police Scotland and the relevant partners, based on the evaluations in each area, before increasing use or further implementation is agreed.

Prevention

Commitment:

2

SUPPORT

4.1: Ensure that return discussions are available for everyone who has been missing and returned, and that these are tailored to the individual and used to help prevent them from falling into a pattern of going missing repeatedly.

I. To provide appropriate support to the person who has been missing.

II. To provide an opportunity for the person to talk about the circumstances that led to them going missing and their experience when missing, if they wish to do so.

III. Identify the underlying causes or reasons why the person was missing.

IV. Use the relevant information gathered to assess on-going risk and provide appropriate support services to prevent the individual from going missing again in the future.

All partners in Local Multi-agency partnerships, including but not limited to:

  • Local authorities
  • Police Scotland
  • Education services
  • NHS Scotland
  • Third sector organisations

Section:

Return interviews should be available for all missing persons who return by May 2018.

The importance of return discussions cannot be stressed enough. These are absolutely central to preventing individuals from falling into patterns of repeatedly going missing.

A return discussion, carried out by an appropriate person, can help to support an individual following their return, provide a platform to identify underlying issues and obtain information that could prevent future missing episodes or allow for quick location of that individual if they go missing again in the future.

How, where and who conducts the return discussion will vary depending on the person who has been missing and lead agency agreement in the local area.

Support

Commitment:

5

4.2: Local missing persons multi-agency partnerships agree a protocol for delivering return discussions.

I. To provide support to the person who has been missing.

II. To provide an opportunity for the person to talk about the circumstances that led to them going missing and their experience when missing.

III. To ensure a return discussion is available within one week with initial contact made with the person within 72 hours of their "return".

IV. To follow up when a referral is made for a person to ensure action is being taken.

All partners in Local Multi-agency partnerships, including but not limited to:

  • Local authorities
  • Police Scotland
  • Education services
  • NHS Scotland
  • Third sector organisations

Section:

Return interviews should be available for all missing persons who return by May 2018.

A return discussion should be treated as essential following the return of a missing person. It is intended to identify and help provide support that may be required, understand and reduce risk of future episodes.

However, it is also recognised that these have to be timed appropriately so that the individual does not feel forced into the discussion, and that it is carried out by an appropriate person who is known to and trusted by the individual.

Those leading the return discussion, as identified through the multi-agency partnership, should where possible be trained and aware of the purpose and importance of the discussion and further follow when required.

Support

Commitment:

5

4.3: Support is made available to families of missing people.

I. To provide support to the families of people who are missing.

All partners in Local Multi-agency partnerships, including but not limited to:

  • Police Scotland
  • NHS Scotland
  • Third sector organisations

It is likely that the provision of this support will depend on the circumstances of the missing individual.

Section:

All multi-partner agencies to have plans in place to provide this support by May 2018.

When someone goes missing it is often not only them who are affected. The families of missing people can face significant emotional turmoil and practical difficulties.

Everyone who has a loved one missing should be provided with some form of support, agencies involved should inform families where appropriate and further services are available.

Support

Commitment

6

PROTECT

5.1: Raise awareness of the risks of going missing.

I. Improve awareness of risks of going missing both in education and outwith.

II. Improve awareness of where help or support can be accessed aiming to reduce vulnerability.

The Scottish Government should lead on this supported by other agencies working in this field.

Section:

A plan for raising awareness should be in place by May 2018.

It is important that awareness is raised amongst vulnerable groups and those that support them about the risks of going missing, and that adults, children and young people are aware of how and where to access help and support.

Protect

Commitment

7 & 8

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT

6.1: Develop training for those who will be delivering return discussions.

I. To build capacity and provision within agencies to conduct more effective return discussions and increase the standard of these across Scotland as a whole.

II. Create opportunities for professionals to build their own skills by being able to obtain training to conduct return discussions.

III. Standardise the approach and method of return discussion across Scotland to ensure that all delivery.

The Scottish Government could lead on the delivery of this by working with partner organisations which have expertise in this field.

Section:

Plans for the delivery of this training should be in place by January 2018.

It is important that return discussions are available for everyone who has been missing and returned to ensure that appropriate support can be provided.

It would therefore be helpful to provide training for those who will be involved in conducting them to develop greater awareness of the importance of return discussion and to standardise the practice across the country.

Support

Commitment

5

6.2: Map multi-agency working across 32 local authorities and monitor the implementation of the National Framework.

I. To understand how agencies are working together across the country and whether the recommendations in the National Framework are helping to improve this.

II. To provide opportunities for learning from good practice and support those working in this field to deliver continuous improvement based on that learning.

III. To link work being delivered at local level within the 32 local authorities to the implementation of the National Framework.

This work should be led by the Scottish Government working closely with partner organisations including COSLA

And Police Scotland.

Section:

A mapping and review plan should be ready by May 2018.

Work to support and protect missing people varies across the country and needs to be developed in response to local needs and circumstances. It is not only important to understand what works and does not work in different areas, but also important to understand how local good practice can be developed and adapted in different areas to improve the response to missing people.

N/A

Commitment

N/A

6.3: Educate children and young people about the risks of going missing.

I. Improve awareness among children and young people about the risks of going missing and the fact that there are services that they can turn to for support if they need them.

Education Scotland should lead on the development of this work to ensure it is appropriate for school-age children.

Section:

Plans for the development of appropriate materials which can be delivered in schools should be underway by May 2018.

It is important that awareness is raised amongst vulnerable groups and those that support them about the risks of running away, and that adults, children and young people are aware of how and where to access help.

Such awareness raising has to be appropriate for the age group it is being delivered to and should also be compatible with national standards such as the Curriculum for Excellence and Getting it Right for Every Child.

Protect

Commitment:

8

6.4: Reviewing

the administrative options for handling missing persons' estates.

I. Scottish Government to review administrative options for handling of missing persons estates to ensure that they are safeguarded until the return of the individual with a view to making the process as straightforward as possible while protecting the individual's rights.

This work may require some legislative changes and it is therefore appropriate for the Scottish Government to take this forward by seeking appropriate legal advice.

Section:

An assessment of what changes are needed should be complete by May 2018.

Where an adult is missing for a long-time, there can be practical implications for family members, such as having to manage finances or mortgages. In Scotland, applications can be made to the courts to appoint a Judicial Factor 'in loco absentis', to provide control over the missing persons' affairs, including finances.

Support

Commitment:

6


Contact

Email: Stephen Coulter

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG