Council takes action over children who go missing
Children who go missing from home or care are not being properly investigated – prompting council chiefs to take action.
A recent Ofsted inspection found children’s services at Sheffield Council was “good” overall but picked up on an issue with missing children.
If a child goes missing, when they return home they should have an interview to find out what happened. Sheffield Futures is contracted to do the interviews but the council is now considering bringing the service back in-house.
Inspectors said: “Arrangements for children who go missing from home and care are not strong enough. Most children are not contacted or seen soon enough following the missing episode, despite an independently commissioned service having responsibility for this task.
“Analysis and actions resulting from contact with the children who go missing are partial and incomplete. Senior managers are aware of this and are taking action.”
The council says it will hold all those responsible for delivering services to account “through robust performance and contract management”.
Coun Jackie Drayton, Cabinet member for children and families, told a scrutiny meeting that interviews had not been done within a specific time limit.
She said: “Because of the system, if we have somebody in a children’s home who has been told to be back at 11pm and if they are not back, they have to be informed as missing, even if they arrive back at 11.30pm. They should have a missing interview.
“They all got their interview, but they were not in the statutory time frame. We are supporting Sheffield Futures but we need to think about bringing it back in-house.
“We are working with them to make sure they deliver the service they should be delivering and make sure everything is done on time but we are reflecting if it was the right thing to go out externally or keep it in-house
“I have not necessarily lost confidence in them, it’s about investigating what happened and it may be we could have done more but we want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”