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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
Objective 2: Respond

52 page PDF

2.6MB

Objective 2: Respond

"I was thinking "how long will it be before they report me missing?" […] I left there about half past one and my bus didn't leave till 6 o'clock and I'm not normally out all day so I thought they might think something is up." (Agnes)

"I kept thinking if I go get on a bus somewhere half the buses now have CCTV, so they'll know where I'm going. So that's why I started walking. No one will know where I'm going, they can't follow me" (Trish).

(all quotations are sourced via http://www.geographiesofmissingpeople.org.uk/missingvoices) 3

Background

When someone goes missing, a judgement needs to be made about the most appropriate way to respond. As indicated above, this is done by undertaking a risk assessment. Police Scotland will make this assessment when a missing person is initially reported to them using available, or lack of, evidence. If the missing person is reported by an agency or care provider, the risk assessment will be undertaken in partnership with that organisation so that together they can agree on the level of risk there is to the individual. Good quality information about the missing individual is therefore important in gauging the level of risk.

By setting out the respective roles and responsibilities of agencies when someone goes missing, these protocols ensure that the potential for delay is minimised, information is shared and the level of risk is established more quickly than it might otherwise have been.

Commitment 3: Agencies to exchange proportionate information to ensure that missing people are located quickly.

While the need for information sharing to effectively locate people who have gone missing may seem self-evident, we need to recognise that we live in a society which rightly places importance on safeguarding the data relating to us. Our laws restrict the amount of information sharing we can do, and the circumstances in which we can share that information. Our approach to locating missing people needs to centre around the individual themselves and, while that is our aim, agencies need to continue to share data responsibly.

Appropriate and proportionate information sharing is important in several respects; in the handling of live cases by Police Scotland to build a picture of someone's history and vulnerabilities; in understanding wider local patterns; and in safeguarding someone who has been the victim of or is at risk of exploitation.

At present, missing persons episodes which are reported to the police generate a 'Risk and Concern' form, which is then shared with partners. A range of agencies may hold important information which can be used to ensure an appropriate response is made in the event someone goes missing. This might, for example, be about health issues, previous instances of a person going missing, or concerns about abuse or exploitation at home or elsewhere, which will have been captured in any prevention plan (see Commitment 1).

Children and Young People

When the relevant provisions are commenced, the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 will make a Named Person available to children and young people across Scotland from birth to age 18, or beyond if still in school. A Named Person is a central point of contact that children, young people and parents/carers can go to for advice, information and support. At present, Health Boards and Local authorities can make the Named Person service available on a policy basis-and, through this Framework, we will ensure practitioners consider whether they should pass information about missing children or young people to the Named Person, where doing so would support, promote or safeguard the child's wellbeing and where sharing this information is compatible with the Data Protection Act, Human Rights and the law on confidentiality.

Adults at Risk of Harm

With regard to adult support and protection, statutory duties also exist for specific agencies regarding the sharing of information about an adult who is 'known or believed' to be at risk of harm at home or elsewhere. Through this Framework, we will ensure that local partners continue to share information about vulnerable people to both safeguard and protect.

Action:

- We will ensure that practitioners consider whether information about missing children or young people should be passed to their Named Person where it would help to support, promote or safeguard their wellbeing.

- We will ensure that local partners agree information sharing protocols for missing persons.

Commitment 4: Agencies to adopt a consistent approach to risk assessment when someone goes missing.

To achieve consistency of approach across Scotland, the Framework proposes that the 'low' 'medium' and 'high' levels of risk outlined above (page 8) are adopted by all agencies. This will ensure a common understanding and agree a joint risk assessment across administrative boundaries where appropriate. A guide to the 'low' 'medium' and 'high' levels can be found in Annex D.

Action:

- Through this Framework, all the relevant agencies will adopt: (a) the national definition of a 'missing person' outlined above; and (b) the 'low' / 'medium' / 'high' definition of risk for missing people.

'Response' objective - Roles and Responsibilities

The following sets out the roles and responsibilities for key partners based on the best practice that has been gathered:

Local partnership

May differ from area to area but will include a combination of lead departments from the agencies below to:

  • Establish information sharing protocol/agreement.
  • Promotes common understanding of risk assessment across agencies.

Local authorities

  • Agree information sharing protocol with partners.
  • Agree to work to single definition of missing persons with local partners.
  • Adopt common understanding of risk assessment.

NHS Health Boards

  • Agree information sharing protocol with partners.
  • Agree to work to single definition of missing persons with local partners.
  • Adopt common understanding of risk assessment.

Police Scotland

  • Agree information sharing protocol with partners.
  • Agree to work to single definition of missing persons with local partners.
  • Adopt common understanding of risk assessment.

Education

  • Agree information sharing protocol with partners.
  • Agree to work to single definition of missing persons with local partners.
  • Adopt common understanding of risk assessment.

Third Sector

  • Agree information sharing protocol with partners.
  • Agree to work to single definition of missing persons with local partners.
  • Adopt common understanding of risk assessment.

Contact

Email: Stephen Coulter

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

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