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Missing Children

Missing Children

Children can go missing as a result of being a victim to exploitation, however this isn't always the case. Every situation is different and there are no set rules about when a child should be considered missing. However, if you have any doubts about whether to contact the police formally to report a child missing or you are suspicious of a child being exploited, the police will be happy to discuss your concerns and offer advice about what to do.

We have a dedicated Missing Children page on our website for situations where exploitation isn't involved.


What You Can Do

Know the signs


Children and young people with increased vulnerability:




Indications that a child is being groomed:



Where To Get Help

Always call 999 if immediate risk


If your child is displaying behaviours that suggest there may be a risk of them running away as a result of being exploited Essex police have a dedicated hotline number for parents and carers to report their worries or concerns about potential child exploitation. If you’ve seen something that doesn’t seem right call them on 01245 452058

If your child does not return home when you expect them to and you are worried, in the first instance you should try and find out where they are. Contact relatives or friends to see if they have seen them or know where they are. You should also search your property and local area to see if you can locate them.

However, if your child is missing or has run away from home, you must contact the police. Dial 999 in an emergency situation or call your local police force immediately on 101.  You do not have to wait 24 hours before reporting a child missing.


Missing Chat: It is important that children that have gone missing are given an opportunity to talk about their experience with someone who is independent. Missing Chats provide an opportunity to place the child’s needs and experiences at the centre, gives them an opportunity to talk and to be listened to, and to have their feelings and experiences taken seriously. Children who go missing will receive this offer via a letter, a phone call or their social worker (if already involved with the family). 

To request a missing chat email



Children and Families Hub: Parents/carers can refer directly to Social Care/Family Solutions via the Family Operations Hub for support about missing children. Further information can be accessed by visiting the website.



UK Missing Persons Unit: Parents/Carers can access advice and guidance fact sheets, created by families of missing persons. They provide advice on many aspects of 'missing', including what to expect during the police investigation. Further information can be accessed by visiting the website. 



Railway Children: Parents/Carers can access useful tips on how to address the conversation of running away with their child, as well as key facts and statistics on missing children. Further information can be accessed by visiting the website.