Missing and runaway children

Children and young people who go missing, or run away from their home or placement, is a serious issue that the London Borough of Enfield is pro-actively addressing. This issue is often an indicator of other problems in the home where the child lives.

Enfield Safeguarding Children Board (ESCB) has a comprehensive missing from home, care, education and/or health protocol (PDF, 384.48 KB) which provides information and advice to professionals regarding how to respond to and work with young people who are missing.

We work closely with an independent specialist service for children and young people called the Enfield Runaways Service. This service operates within the community and in partnership with all the statutory agencies to assist in providing an effective response to children who are missing.

St Christopher’s Young Runaways Service is community based in Enfield and can be contacted on 020 8780 7800 or by email, yrproject@stchris.org.uk

Child sexual exploitation

We know that when young people go missing they can be particularly vulnerable to exploitation. This may take the form of sexual exploitation which is defined as:

“Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology.”

For more information, see our child sexual exploitation page.

County lines

We also know that young people who are missing are vulnerable to becoming involved in criminal activity.

‘County lines’ is the term used to describe the approach taken by gangs originating from large urban areas, who travel to locations elsewhere such as county or coastal towns to sell class A drugs. Gangs typically recruit and exploit children and vulnerable young people to courier drugs and cash. Typically, users ask for drugs via a mobile phone line used by the gang. Couriers travel between the gang’s urban base and the county or coastal locations on a regular basis to collect cash and deliver drugs.

Gangs recruit children and young people through deception, intimidation, violence, debt bondage and/or grooming. Gangs also use local property as a base for their activities, and this often involves taking over the home of a vulnerable adult who is unable to challenge them.

For more information on County Lines visit the National Crime Agency website.