Missing persons report

Follow this procedure to lodge a missing persons report when a client is missing.

Introduction

Child protection practitioners should know the whereabouts of a child with whom they are involved and be satisfied the child is safe and living in circumstances that are adequate for the child's safety, wellbeing and healthy development.

If the whereabouts of a child are unknown, make a missing persons report (MPR) to police.

A concurrent children's court search warrant may also be required if police intervention will be or is needed once the child is found.

For additional information see Missing persons report - advice.

Procedure

Case practitioner tasks

  • Advise your supervisor on the same working day you learn that a child protection client is missing.
  • Ensure an MPR is lodged with the police. The MPR may be lodged by the parent or caregiver if the child is in their care. If the parent or caregiver does not make the MPR, the case manager must make it.
    • Go to the local police station to make a MPR, providing a description of the child.
    • Provide police with a contact name and phone number as well as an after hours contact.
    • Ask police to inform child protection when the child is located.
    • Advise police of child protection’s proposed plan and placement for the child when found.
  • Make reasonable attempts to locate the child.
  • Complete an incident report.
  • Initiate an alert in CRIS and brief AHCPES.
  • If the missing child is living in out-of-home care, ensure the MPR has been lodged.
  • Ensure the parents of the missing child know their child is missing and inform them of the actions taken. Advise your supervisor that you have informed the parents.
  • Consider the need for a Children’s Court search warrant and the need for police to search premises or to take a child into emergency care when located. Record the decision and rationale on CRIS.
  • Consider an interstate alert if you think the child has left the state. Speak to the divisional interstate liaison officer for assistance.
  • Liaise regularly with police while the child is missing.
  • Notify the police immediately if the child is located and provide written confirmation to the police to withdraw the MPR.
  • If the child remains missing, consult with your supervisor about whether to issue a missing persons media release.

Team manager or supervisor tasks

  • Decide what action is to be taken within eight hours of being notified a child is missing.
  • Record the rationale for decisions about the missing child on CRIS, or ensure that the rationale is recorded.
  • If the child remains missing, consider whether to issue a missing persons media release. Consider the child’s age, vulnerability, previous behaviour, risk, progress of police investigation and the length of time the child has been missing. Consult the child protection operations manager about the decision.
  • To issue a missing persons media release, seek endorsement from the Director Child Protection or Assistant Director Child Protection.

Section 534 of the CYFA does not prohibit publication of information about a child, such as name, age and photographs, provided the information does not identify the child as being subject or proceedings in the Children’s Court or subject to a Children’s Court order.

Community service organisation tasks

  • Make a MPR to the police if a child residing in an out-of-home care service is missing.
  • Advise child protection that the child is missing and complete an incident report. If the MPR is lodged after hours, confirm this with child protection the next working day.

Secure welfare service unit manager tasks

  • Make an MPR to police and complete a category one incident report if a child cannot be located and is missing from a secure welfare service.
  • Advise the Director Secure Services and the relevant divisional Director Child Protection or Assistant Director Child Protection.
  • Contact the divisional office to determine whether a Children’s Court search warrant should be sought.
  • Advise Secure Welfare Services on-call manager and AHCPES if a child absconds after hours or on the weekend.
  • Contact Streetwork Outreach Service to seek assistance in locating the child.
  • Complete an incident report.

Child protection operations manager tasks

  • If the child remains missing and a decision to issue a missing persons media release has been endorsed by the Director or Assistant Director, Child Protection:
    • consult the department’s Media Unit 9096 7710 or media@dhhs.vic.gov.au who will advise on the appropriate protocol
    • provide information about the child and a photograph to police
    • advise the divisional manager of executive response coordination that a missing persons media release is being prepared.
  • If circumstances require the missing persons media release to include information that identifies the child as being subject to proceedings in the Children’s Court or subject to a Children’s Court order, recommend to the Director Child Protection that an application be made either:
    • to the President of the Children’s Court. An application can be made to the Children’s Court, seeking permission to publish information identifying a child as subject of proceedings in the Children’s Court or subject to a Children’s Court order.
    • or to the Secretary. An application can be made to the Secretary, seeking permission to publish identifying information about a child on a family reunification order, a care by Secretary order or a long-term care order. The Secretary has no power to grant permission for the publication of identifying information about any other party or witness in Children’s Court proceedings.

Director or Assistant Director, Child Protection tasks

  • If a missing child remains missing consider whether to authorise a missing persons media release.
  • Inform the child's parents of the intention to publish information. Parents must be consulted if the child is not subject to a care by Secretary order or a long-term care order.

Director Child Protection tasks

  • Consult with Office of Professional Practice, the Assistant Director Child Protection, Statutory and Forensic Services Design Branch, Legal Services and the divisional Deputy Secretary before seeking permission to publish information identifying a child as subject of proceedings in the children’s court or subject to a children’s court order.
  • Inform the child's parents of the intention to publish information. Parents must be consulted if the child is not subject to a care by Secretary order or long-term care order..
  • Apply to the Children’s Court, if seeking permission from the President of the Children’s Court to publish information identifying a child as subject of proceedings in the Children’s Court or subject to a Children’s Court order.
  • Apply to the Secretary to seek permission to publish identifying information about a child on a family reunification order, a care by Secretary order or a long-term care order. The Secretary has no power to grant permission for the publication of identifying information about any other party or witness in Children’s Court proceedings.
  • Brief the Office of the Minister for Families and Children and the Media Unit.

 

Additional information

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