A Scoping Study of Services for Young Runaways for 1 in 9: Scottish Coalition for Young Runaways

Published: November 2008

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We would like to thank all Child Protection Committee, local authority and police representatives who provided us with inform ation for this study. We are particularly grateful to everyone who spoke with us actice, policies and procedures. Thanks to all the voluntary or ganisations who provided us with statistical data and case-studies, particularly the Young Runaways Project, Aberlour ROC and ChildLine Scotland, and to the other voluntary agencies who provided additional information. We are also grateful to The Children’s Society for allowing us to adapt this scoping study. The Co alition Research Advisory Stirling Council, Aberlour Crannog Proj ect and NCH CAPS Fostering Project provided invaluable support by helping us to contact young people. In particular, we would like to thank all the young people who told us about thei r experiences of 1 This study was undertaken to examine responses to young people in Scotland who run away from home or substitute care. The study, commissioned by 1 in 9, The Scottish Coalition for Young Runaways, originated from concerns about the experiences of young people who run away or are forced to leave where they live and aimed to find out more about the responses cu rrently in place to address the needs of 2 Research carried out in England and Wales for the Children’s Society (Safe on the Streets Research Team, 1999; Rees and Lee, 2005) indicated that approximately 11% of young people had run away overnight before the age of 16. This represented one in nine of the youth population (Rees and Lee, 2005: 7). The Aberlour Child Care Trust commissioned a similar study to assess the situation in Scotland. This study (Wade, 2001), based on information ga thered from young people and agencies, also concluded that by the age of 16, at le ast one in nine (11%) of children and young people will have run away overnight on one or more occasion. Approximately 9000 children and young people run away each year in Scotland (Wade, 2001). 3 Studies conducted across the United Kingdom have highlighted: There appears to be little difference in the rates of running away between urban and rural areas; Running away is commonly due to arguments and conflict at home, experiences of emotional or physical abus e, or to seek respite from parental problems (i.e. alcohol or drug depe ndency, mental health issues); ciated with problems at school; Although the rate of running away is slightly higher in poorer families, the ay seems to be indirect; The majority of young runaways have run from their family home; are from stepfamily backgrounds; Young people in substitute care are over-represented among runaways but research indicates that many of th ese young people have a history of running away and the quality of care may not be directly linked; One in six young people sleep rough while away; ing hurt or harmed while away; Very few young people seek help from agencies while away; The majority of young people who run aw ay from home had not been reported to the police as missing while away. (Safe on the Streets Research Team, 1999; Wade, 2001; Rees and Rutherford, 2001; Rees and Smeaton, 2001; Rees a nd Lee, 2005; Owen and Graham, 2004; Smeaton and Rees, 2004; Smeaton, 2005; Macaskill, 2006). 4 In England and Wales, the Social Exclusion Unit was given the remit of responding to the findings of the Safe on the Streets Research Team study and published a report in 2002, (Social Exclusion Unit, 2002) which outlined key recommendations for the delivery of services to support young Young Runaways, co-ordinated by the Aber lour Child Care Trust, includes representatives from: the A ssociation of Directors of Social Work; ChildLine Scotland; Barnardo’s; Who Cares? Scotland ; Streetwork (Edinburgh); the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland; Protection Office and the Scottish Ch ildren’s Reporters’ Administration. 10 One of the initial objectives of the Coa lition was to identify current responses and activity among local authorities and Child Protection Committees (CPC) in addressing the needs of young runaways. In pa rticular, it was considered important to identify the action taken by local authorities and partners to put in place protocols as recommended by the Guidance, and to examine the translation of these protocols into practice. This study was commissioned to identify how CPCs and local authorities respond to young runaways and considers the extent to which the Guidance has been implemented across Scotland. This scoping st udy maps the existence of services and arrangements; it does not attempt to evaluate them. “a child or young person under the age of 18 who spends one ni ght or more away from the family home or substi tute care without permission or who has been forced to leave by their parents or carers”. 11 This scoping study defines a young runa way as any child or young person under the age of 16 who spends at least one night away from the family home without the permission of their parent or carer , and under the age of 18 who runs from substitute care. This definition is shared outside Scotland (for example, Social Exclusion Unit, 12 The report sets out: The aims and objectives of the study Policy context collected by local authorities The implementation and operation of inter-agency protocols Models of practice – some examples of current responses are outlined in more detail focusing on: responses to young people who run from residential care; provision in local authorities where no specialist services are in place for young runaways; Aberdeen’s Young R unaways Project; Aberlour ROC Monitoring and service developments Some concluding points. 16-17 year olds who run away can legally live independently and can access accommodation and some financial benefits. The Scottish Executive also note that “the welfare of the child or young person must be the primary consideration and in some cases ther efore concerns may be raised abou t the safety of the child or young person after a shorter absence” (2003b:1).

identify the form such protocols have ta ken, where they exist, and to consider their practical application; Attendance at the Scottish Out of Hours Social Wo rk Services Group to Case studies outlining young people’s ex periences were provided by The Young Runaways Project in Aberdeen and the Aberlour Running – Other Choices (ROC) Project in Glasgow; Statistical data was obtained from ChildLine Scotland and the Aberlour ROC 16 Twenty-eight completed questionnaires we re returned from CPCs, 25 were from local authority representatives and thr ee questionnaires were completed by police representatives who had been identified by CPC Chairs or Lead Officers as the appropriate contacts. In the majority of cases, an individual respondent completed the questionnaires; in a small number of areas information was collated by a number of agencies (usually social work services a nd the police). The available information was limited, and the researchers were contacted on a number of occasions by respondents to advise us that they were unable to give us much information, or to explain gaps in the information provided. Although seven ques tionnaires were not returned, in most of these cases the research team contacted a representative from the local authority area and information was obtained by other m eans. Only one CPC did not respond to our request for information. Annex One provides a summary of the information provided. While responses are presented in Annex One by area, throughout the body of the report we have anonymise 17 The data collection was a complex process and our request for information was regularly passed on within organisations and to other relevant agencies as individuals did their best to provide a complete pictur e of service provision. Specifically, the research team was regularly informed that this process raised the issue of young runaways and in doing so, highlighted areas for development, as well as examples of Professional interviews 18 Interviews (formal and informal) were ca rried out with a range of professionals across the country to gather more inform ation or clarify that provided; explore awareness and knowledge of the issues; use of agreed protocols; and/or views about existing or future services. This included interviews with representatives from the police (6), social workers and social work managers (10), residential and secure accommodation managers and workers (5), workers in voluntary organisations (6).

Interviews with young people 19 Interviews were carried out with young people who had run away in order to discuss their experiences of service provi sion and to explore their views about the kind of provision that would meet their needs. Although 10 agencies were contacted in order to access young people, those who took part in the study were contacted through Stirling Council, Aberlour Child Ca re Trust’s Crannog Pr oject in Stranraer 21 A range of policies and services have b een developed to respond to ‘children in need’, most recently Getting It Right For Every Child (Scottish Executive, 2007) which sets out a vision for every child a nd young person in Scotland. While an array of policies exist to ensure services pr en and young people, for young people who run away. The ed the provision of short-term refuges for children at risk of harm . Section 38 (1) specified th at where a local authority perceived a child to be at risk of harm, they could provide a safe place at the child’s 22 The Act made provision for three form s of refuge, limiting the period for which refuge could be provided to seven days, or in exceptional circumstances, to a maximum period of 14 days. This can consist of: A residential establishment controlled or managed by the local authority, if that establishment is designated by the local authority as a suitable place of Use of a registered residential establishment for the purposes of providing 23 The Scottish Executive (2003b) noted that different forms of provision are required to meet the needs of young runaways and indicated that a range of services Outreach teams; Family mediation and counselling services; 24 The Scottish Executive extended suppor t to ChildLine and Parentline, including an additional £500,000 over two years to allow ChildLine Scotland to open a new call centre to increase the number of children they were able to help by up to 60% (Scottish Executive, 2003b). In December 2006, funding to ChildLine was expanded further (£308k in 07/08, and an additio nal £228k annually thereafter, subject to evaluation) to expand the cap acity of the Glasgow and Aberdeen centres and to support the setting up of a th ird centre in Edinburgh. Th e Aberlour ROC project and Refuge received £600,000 from the Scottish Executive, which alongside funding from a number of other agencies, enabled the Ab erlour Child Care Trust to establish the ROC refuge as a fixed-term pilot project to assess the effectiveness of a residential refuge for children and young people who have run away or been forced to leave home 25 Other areas for development were identified by the SE including: Planning and development of services for young runaways to be taken forward within the wider children’s An independent evaluation was conducted which reported in 2006 (Malloch, 2006). DEFINITIONS AND STATISTICS 26 The Scottish Executive (2001) For Scotland’s Children: An Action Plan highlighted the importance of better integr ated children’s services. Integrated Children’s Services Plans (Plans) set out the operation and implementation of Children’s Services by each local authority. Their objective is to illustrate continued improved outcomes for children and young people. The 32 local authority Plans were examined to identify what, if any, services 27 Of the 32 local authority Plans examin ed for the purpose of this study, only eight referred specifically to ‘young runaways ’, with five doing so in the context of Aberdeen (For Aberdeen’s Children: Integrated Children’s Services Plan refers to the work undertaken by th in a 15 month period to September 2004 ove r 1,000 missing person reports were dealt with by this service. It is noted that Th e Young Runaways Project is working with a Help them understand th East Renfrewshire ( Children’s Services Plan sets out a list of priorities agreed by the Child Protection Committee for 2005-2008 including a review of all statutory child protection po licies and procedures, and states: working with pregnant drug and alcohol use rs, domestic abuse, Glasgow City ( Integrated Children’s Services Plan 2005-2008) notes that young runaways are included in overarchi ng strategic objectives for 2005 – 2008 aimed at ensuring improvements for children, young people, their families/carers whose access to mainstream services can be difficult; where they need additional supports; or where these services do not best meet their needs. Running away is also detailed as one social c onsequence of living with dom estic abuse and the report outlines the provision of a dedi 31 Generally, local authorities do refer to the most vulnerable children and young people as defined in the Children (Scotland ) Act 1995 as “children in need”. Other terms used included: vulnerable children; children in need of additional support; intensive support; complex needs; children who have social needs; homeless; in need of protection; at ri sk of abuse; affected by viol ence in the home; poverty/rural deprivation.; disadvantaged; vulnerable fam ilies; looked after children; referrals to youth justice; Children’s Hearing system; ch ild protection. While these terms could often include young runaways, the limited attention given to this group of young people could lead to their specific needs be ing overlooked in the current or future development of services. entifying a young person as a ‘ runaway’ and a different “We had a full discussion about this at the CPC and basically this information is not collated in our agencies. Soc ial work are aware of looked after children who run ficulty in defining when to classify a young person as a 36 While respondents referred to ava ilable figures on young people who had run from residential units, there was less aw areness of numbers of young people running from home. “If parents contact our duty te am then we always advise th at they contact the police usually after they have done some initial checking. Of course not all parents contact either ourselves or the police and we woul d not therefore be aware of those young 37 Respondents suggested that the poli ce would collate figures on young people reported missing, although it was acknowledge d that a range of factors could determine whether or not a child would be reported missing including: age, circumstances, and the likelihood of staying out without permission. It was regularly suggested that children who ran from home may be consid ered to be a child ‘in need’ but unless a young person came to the attention of the police or ot her services they were unlikely to defined in this way. Young runaways who were no t considered to be ‘vulnerable’ were often returned home wit hout being recorded in any official capacity as a ‘runaway’. However, without a detailed assessment it was not clear what procedures were put in place to identify whether or not a young person was 38 Given the differences in definitions used and data collected, it is not surprising that where figures were available they were limited and variable in content. Respondents indicated that the figures they di d have did not always relate to actual “…the police receive about 20-30 calls of missing young people every weekend and most have not returned home because they are at parties etc but they are dealt with as missing persons and the relevant forms filled in”. 39 One respondent advised that data was not currently collated in their area however specific incidents would be reco rded and logged and could be used to “All “Unauthorised Absences” from our Residential Units are logged. However this will also include periods of unauthorised ab sence which last for a short period of young people talked to voluntee r counsellors at ChildLine Scotland about running . The calls came both from children away, and from those who were Most of the callers were aged between 11 and 16, however small numbers of younger children (aged between 5 and 10) also spoke about running away. Over twice as many girls as boys talked about running away and the vast majority of callers spoke about running away from home. Around 5% of the callers talked about running away from care. ChildLine Scotland 2007 45 According to a representative of ChildLine Scotland, children and young people who call ChildLine Scotland about running away very rarely talk about this problem in isolation. Almost 95% of callers last year who talked about running away as their main problem also spoke about other, re lated problems. In many cases young people talked about multiple, interlinking problems th at they were struggling to deal with. These include: mental health problems; self harm and suicide; school problems; bullying; problems with living in care; My mum and dad have kicked me out because I told them I was pregnant and now I have nowhere to go. I just want someone to talk to. I ran away from home today – my dad’s been hitting me. He comes home off his head and hits me for nothing. My mum left a few years ago. I never see her anymore. 46 According to ChildLine Scotland, the main problems young people talked about in association with running away in 2006- 7 were family relationship problems and abuse. Family relationship problems were overwhelmingly the most common issue affecting young people when they talked a bout running away, with almost 80% of callers talking about severe family probl ems, including on-going family breakdown, parents divorcing or sepa rating and bereavement. Abuse was also a common problem for young people running away, with just under a third of young callers talking about physical abuse, mainly at the hands of their parents or carers. Smaller numbers of callers al buse and emotional abuse. These figures are likely to represent an underestim ate of the numbers of children and young people calling ChildLine Scotland about running away. A significant proportion of young peopl e who runaway from home are not reported missing to the police or Other than the research published by th e Aberlour Child Care Trust (Wade, 2001) based on self-reports by young people in school, we have no accurate 54 Respondents were asked if their local aut hority had a protocol/s in place and to indicate whether this applied to young people who were accommodated and/or young people who ran from home. Looked after and accommodated young people protocol Twenty four respondents reported having a protocol in place for children who are looked after or accommodated (although they sometimes referred to procedures or policies that existed rather than to inter-agency or joint protocols); Three respondents said th eir local area did not have No information was available for one CPC; Young people running from home protocol for children running away from home; The other respondents did not ha ve a protocol in place or it was not known if they One respondent indicated that their pr otocol on young people experiencing sexual exploitation covered the issue of young runa ways and this was referred to by two other respondents in discussi on. However it is important to note that these groups of young people (young runaways and young peopl e at risk of sexual exploitation) 57 Copies of inter-agency protocols were four police areas: Children and Young People Missing From Local Authority Care Joint (Lothian and Borders Po lice, City of Edinburgh Children and Families Department, West Lothian Community and Support Services, Midlothian Social Work Division, East Lothian De partment of Education and Children’s Services, Scottish Borders Social Work Services) Missing children, absconders and child ren otherwise absent from Local Authority Care Joint Protocol (Tayside Police and Angus Council Soci al Work and Health and Education Young Runaways Reporting Protoc (Grampian Police and Aberdeen City, Aberdeen shire and Moray Social Work Services) from Local Authority Care (Strathclyde Police) This is currently bei Grampian Police also provided a copy of their Standard Operating Proced ures for Young Persons Missing from Residential Establishments and Foster Care Placements. at the place they are being returned to and indicate that a young person will be seen by an independent person, e.g. from Who Cares? Scotland or a Children’s Rights Officer. The others (Strathclyde and Lothian and Borders) indica te that the young person will be offered the opportunity to meet with someone, although St rathclyde Police hope that in the future return interviews will be conducted by the Family Protection Unit as a matter of course. 61 The majority of joint protocols targ et young people who go missing from local authority accommodation, and respondents i ndicated that these were generally considered effective in reducing the numb “The traffic lights project is a protocol between Strathclyde Police and Social Work Services in East Dunbartonshire, Renf rewshire and Inverclyd e in relation to absconders from care establishments. The pr otocol was produced to help staff in residential units and the police make decisions about how to respond when a child goes missing from their placement. It outl ines three categories of risk (red, amber and green) and the expected responses of staff in each case incl uding follow up action when the child is found or re turns. Since the pilot proj ect was introduced there has 62 While reductions in the number of young people reported missing to the police was perceived as an important benefit of the protocols, it was not clear how young people’s experiences were affected when the introduction of cate gories in this way 63 Preliminary results of an evaluation which is currently being undertaken by Strathclyde Police indicate th at as a result of the intr oduction of a protocol, much more dialogue appears to be taking place be tween police officers, and social workers and children’s unit staff, although it was noted that there is an ongoing need for where protocols have been implemented. 64 Several respondents provided copies of detailed procedures produced by local authority Child Protection Committees setting out guidelines and procedures in place in local areas to respond to vulnerable children and young pe ople. While these procedures often specifically identified young people at risk of respondents indicated that they would ge nerally also be implemented for young runaways. Although there may be some overlap between these groups of young people, the extent to which a protocol for young people at risk of sexual exploitation will also address the needs of young runawa ys is questionable. Nevertheless, the procedures were developed due to growing concern with children at risk for whom Protecting Children Protocols: Safeguar ding young people at risk of sexual exploitation (May 2006) Renfrews hire Child Protection Committee This document is one of a set of protocols each offering guidance in relation to work with specific groups of young people or with fa milies with particular difficulties. It is an interagency document and was drawn up by representatives from social work . The document includes: the legislative framework; the issue of young runaways. Development of integrated assessment framework will 69 Other respondents indicated that they were currently developing protocols and guidance with other agencies (i.e. the police, education) . North Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, East Renfrewshire and North Lanarkshire Child Protection Committees are currently working together to deve lop Vulnerable Children and Young People Good Practice Guidance. This is curren tly in draft form and will address the recommendations of the Vulnerable Childre n and Young People legislation, to clarify agencies and assist in the process of ensuring the safe 70 Operational protocols also exis t for young people who go missing from education and from health care services. Additionally where specialist runaway services exist, there is considerable evidence of joint work with other agencies, notably the police but also health and educat ion services to develop operational 71 The implementation and operation of protocols highlights the importance of inter agency working with ed in running away and other high-risk activity or behaviours – co-ordinated as part of the multi-disciplinary child protection system. However the in terchange of protocols which target young people at risk of sexual exploitation with young people who have runaway may suggest some confusion of the presenting and underlying issues. 72. Recognition of the importance of joint work and contributions that different agencies can make was highlighted in Protecting Children, A Shared Responsibility (1998) Scottish Office. For this to be effec allocation of resources. As “The Protocol has identified joint, indeed greater responsibility for Social Work departments, with those Missing Persons who are classed as Unauthorised Absence or Low Risk. These responsibilities and their implications have not been realised, nor have any additional resources been made available to allow delivery of these 73 Another respondent commented: “Young people can remain at Police Offices for extended periods due to social work resourcing issues” . This can be problematic outwith ‘office hours’ where it can be difficult to access services. This was noted by one respondent who commented on the importance of emergency duty social workers; and by Standby Service managers. The role of social work out of hour’s services or emergency duty teams is important in responding to young people who have runaway and in the implementation of protocols. However this can raise a number of issues: Young people are less likely to be record ed as missing during the day so this may fall to out of hours teams; Statutory involvement can be an issu e for young people so social work may not be the best agency to respond to young people who have run away in all cases (voluntary service may be more appropriate, where this exists, and the Yes, in Yes, being developed No Not sure/no information A designated senior manager with responsibility for monitoring the effectiven ess of missing from care protocols / procedures 13 3 12 4 A report about patterns of absence amongst looked after young people 4 7 12 9 An action plan with targets for minimising missing from care incidents 3 6 13 10 Assessments of risk for young people who are identified as at risk of running away from local 20 6 0 6 Initial assessments of risk for young people who run away from home 9 4 11 8 Involvement of local agen cies concerned with the welfare of looked after ch ildren in the process of agreeing risk assessment formats 11 7 5 9 77 Twenty respondents indicated that risk assessments we re routinely carried out e identified as being at risk of running away, six respondents indicated that these assessments are currently being developed. Only nine local au thorities routinely carry out initial assessments of risk for young people who run away from home, wi th four developing them. Clearly if young people are returned home, unless defined as ‘vulnerable’, then it is crucial that appropriate assessment procedures are in pl ace to obtain full information on the young person’s circumstances and concerns. 78 Key points: Protocols were more likely to be in place for children and young people who ildren running from home and none Joint training was considered crucial to There was concern that limited resources and lack of training impacted on the extent to which social work services were taking responsibility for enacting Improved communication between agencies from the implementation of protocols in some areas While a young persons access to an independent worker and referrals to other services was included in protocols this was not uniform and actual practice could vary depending on circumstances Initial aims of the protocols were not always realised du e to pressure on ‘Getting bored, wanted out, or wanted to see my pals, my family or wanted a drink, drugs, sometimes got addicted to running away , can’t sit in – had to get out of the 84 The young person who sent a letter rather than being interviewed described the ‘I only ran away for attention and nothing mo re, I felt that when I ran away people cared because they would always find me, and for a short time afte r this things would go back to normal, and when they got bad again I would just do the same, so it was a vicious circle’. 85 Young people appeared to have taken very little with them wh en they ran away. One young person took food and drink from th e fridge, one took a phone, cigarettes and a tent and another took some clothes; otherwise it was typically small items such as make-up or a phone and charger or, in The experience of running away 86 Almost all the young people reported that they did not feel worried before they left about what might happen to them once they had run away, although one said that she did sometimes think about the conseque rson described her ‘I wasn’t really worried about anything – y ou don’t have time to think, the adrenalin kicked in and I just went. At the time I didn’t think about th e risks, I was desperate – I even jumped out of windows to get away’. 87 Although two of the young people stated th at they did not f eel unsafe at any time while they were missing, the others cited instances when they were frightened or felt unsafe, especially at ni ght. Most also described times when they were hungry, cold or missed members of their family. Most were able to recognise, in retrospect, ways in which they had potentially been in danger or at risk. One young woman appeared to have an alcohol dependency i ssue and usually sought out opportunities to misuse alcohol and by doing so, wa s at some considerable risk: ‘Once or twice it did feel sc ary – I woke up in a house, didn ’t know how I’d got there, 88 Three of the young people said that they had no idea where they would go when they ran away; the others said they went to friends, one stayed in her tent and the ‘I didn’t plan on going far. Most of the tim e I stayed locally, just dandered about in the village. I went to the local Old Folks home, once I drove a tractor about, once I went to a stranger’s door and th ey took me in and then phon ed the police to come and SERVICES FOR YOUNG RUNAWAYS 91 The Scottish Executive Guidance (2003) set out a number of areas where services were needed to respond to y away; providing immediate safety for provision of support. Respondents were aske d to outline the services available in their area for young runaways. Clearly, resp ondents interpreted the questions in different ways and in some cases may not have acknowledged serv ices that were not Emergency accommodation 92 Respondents were asked if emergency accommodation was provided for young runaways. Thirteen respondent s stated that there were no dedicated places available for this group of young people, while elev en respondents replie d that accommodation could be accessed as necessa ry (eight respondents did not know or did not provide information). Examples of available accomm Children’s Unit with 5 places and 2 linked flats; emergency flat with 2 spaces; foster care placements; a family, where appropriate; crisis/emergency care; scatter flats and bungalow accommodation; referral to homeless services; Aberlour ROC refuge. 93 None of the respondents referred to us ing this accommodati of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. The Ab erlour ROC refuge is the only dedicated refuge in Scotland and provides three of th e 10 refuge places available in the UK and “We use our residential childre n’s units to offer time out in times of crisis. Outwith this authority we use Aberlour Refuge (Running Other Choices) to support young runaways…ROC project offers confidential help, support, accommodation, advocacy, t work with families”. 94 This was seen by some respondents as an important resource that could be “There is no provision of short-term supported accommodation, for those young runaways that are regular missing persons. Such a facility should provide a vehicle for expression, where the young persons’ reasons for running away could possibly be 95 One respondent noted that althoug h there was no emergency accommodation specific to runaways in thei r local area, where a child under 16 presented themselves 101 Most of the young people had become i nvolved with services while missing from where they lived, generally at th e point where they were ‘found’. One young person had had no contact with services a nd one had only limited contact with the police when they gave her a lift back to her home. Two young people interviewed considered that the police had very negativ e views towards them, perceiving that the police viewed them as wasting their time and worrying their families; however, one young person commented that the police officers she had contact with varied – some but some were ‘nice’.

Young people’s experi ence of social work services was variable; two of the young people said they would not approach social workers for help as ‘they were fed-up with me’.

However, one young person described the Emergency duty Team social workers as ‘good to talk to; th ey do quite a good Other services which young people co mmented positively about included Barnardo’s Street Team, Includem and th e Running Other Choices- Refuge. Young people’s views of services need 102 In addition to suggestions about preventative services, young people had some ideas about what services would be helpfu l for those who were already ‘on the run’. The form of help most mentioned was a safe place to go and stay; in addition, an 103 When asked what advice they would give a young person who was thinking of running away, all the young people without exce ption said they would tell them not to ‘Be wise, don’t go, stay at home and keep safe. It makes it worse if you run. Respect ‘I would say to them – sit down and think it through first , don’t just ta ke off. I was lucky as I put myself in bad situations and over four years, when I think about it, it wasn’t a good situation. I ended up with 15 foster carers, 4 homes and it wasn’t good being shifted about so much. And don’t go al one – once the adrenalin calms it’s not a just thinking 104 Similarly, Wade (2001) identified a number of factors which young people considered might have prevented them runni ng away, or might have helped them once Increased publicity for local services that might be available to help young Opportunities for advice, counselling and family mediation prior to, or at the Respite accommodation to prevent young pe ople being exposed to danger on the streets. Young people felt this ki nd of refuge provision should be small, homely and well supported; MODELS OF PRACTICE 105 While local services differ significan tly due to geographical necessity and organisational practice, different mode ls of responses to young people can be identified (see also Rees, 2001; Rees et al, 2005). The following discussion is not intended to evaluate different approaches, but merely illustrates some of the different ways of responding to young people that curre ntly exist and highlights some of the issues that practitioners and ma nagers identified as a result. 1. Residential Units 106 From the information provided for this scoping study it w ould appear that a ure in police missing persons reports are accommodated (see also Biehal and Wade , 2000 and 2002). While proportionately, these young people account for a small number of the young people who run away, they do run more frequently. As noted previously, young people may also be reported missing should they stay out after an agreed time and may not technically be considered missing (or to have runaway). 107 Statistical data on the total num ber of young people who go missing from residential care was impossible to obtai n. Two police respondents were able to provide breakdowns of data for their area, however other respondents were not. One police respondent tried to provide this information for the study by contacting divisional areas (figures for missing pers ons from residential accommodation was not collated centrally) but was not able to obtain categorised da ta. Local authorities were asked to provide this data but it was not a central point. While individual units were likely to keep fi gures, it was not usually collated across the authority. Who Cares? Scotland indica ted that they did not have figures for numbers of young people running away and em phasised the problems with definitions that exist (i.e. absconders, failure to return, missing). However they noted that they are setting up a new recording system and data base and it is feasible that they could 108 Workers identified some of the difficulties in categorising young people reported missing from residential units as ‘missing persons’ As one residential manager commented, the reasons why young pe ople go missing from residential care can vary: “I would say that we have ver run away as such i.e. that they go for long periods of time or we have no idea where they are. Most of the young people in the unit who go missing go away for an overni ght – mainly to a pal’s house or to family. We usually know where they’ve gone and they k now that we know. It’s partly a problem about us not being able to give permission doing Police Checks on them”. 109 In relation to young people who have commented that young people may have various reasons for running away, for example: struggling with having boundaries set are not used to this at home; or being bullied. When young people run away from the units, workers recognised that they could be at considerable risk mainly as a result of such as housing, education and personal skills development. It was suggested that young people need to have choices about who is best able to advi se and support them; social workers are often seen as ‘the en emy’. Mentoring, befrie nding and peer support ly more likely to be effective. 117 In areas where there is no specialist provision, respondents indicated that available services would be employed ‘as necessary’. In these areas, respondents tended to refer to young people missing from re sidential care rather than from home when they discussed runaways, and several re spondents referred the researchers to the police, who were frequently seen as the agency with responsi bility for young people who run away from home, for information. As illustrated previously, this is the situation for a significant majority 118 One respondent acknowledged that when a young person runs away: “There aren’t really any specif ic services that come into play; it’s a bit of a void. There are procedural things such as th e EDT and Police being contacted and then a wait until the young person comes back. There’s no direct action as such or any services that can be put in place. It’s quite o ften part of a pattern of behaviour and they usually come back or are found. The Po lice get fed up with those who run away s up a lot of their time”. 119 Young people who ran from home coul d also cause concern for statutory services, with the result that they could “There is no accommodation specifically designated for runaways. Generally runaways presenting to services would be returned home unless there was evidence of child protection concerns indi cating that home is unsafe. In that case, steps would be taken to identify temporary placement – startin g with family/friends, then if that is not r resources e.g. foster ca “As noted, the issue of abscondi ng tends to go along with othe r factors in the lives of some of the vulnerable children and young people we work with, and would be addressed as part of wider risk assessments and care plans for Generally, intervention aimed at improving the safety and security of young people in their home setting will tend to reduce the likelihood of them absconding. In extreme cases, absconders placing themselves and/or others at risk are considered with reference to criteria for secure accommodation”. 120 One local authority gave the example of a joint voluntary/lo cal authority funded list residential unit which c ould work extensively with two young people, especially those who have had multiple placements and history of absconding. While it was not secure acco mmodation it was cons idered to provide onships between workers and young people and on detailed risk assessment. Currently this resource was reported to be working effectively with a young ma 126 It was noted that resources are cruc ial in order for young people to feel listened to and for support to be available for young people at the point of seeking help. One respondent suggest ed that this means “ more shelters similar to the ROC project or other alternatives. It also means outreach capacity to support young people ected to travel to cities alone”.

3. Young Runaways Service 127 The Young Runaways Service is a joint initiative aimed at accommodated in residential units, in Aberdeen who run away’ following concerns by Grampian Police about the risks faci away from residential units, residential sc hool and foster care, leading them to commission a study carried out by Barnardo’s into the exte nt of this problem. The Barnardo’s study found that during 1999, Grampi an Police dealt with 897 reports of missing people under the age of 18. Furthermore, two-thirds of the reports related to 89 young people who had run from residential units, with each report averaging five hours of police time (Barnardo’s information). 128 Consequently, a multi-agency group was established (including the police, social work department and Barnardo’s al ong with other agencies) to set up a city wide protocol which would operate fo r young runaways from local authority accommodation. A dedicated service was also established to provide a resource to 129 This joint work has highlighted th e importance of the issues facing young runaways across the city, although at pres ent the service is only used by young people who have run from local authority accomm missing to the police. Respondents highlighted some of the issues that have arisen 130 The protocol (which operates on a traffic light basis – green, amber and red) is always used when a young person goes missing from local authority accommodation but does not automatically require workers to alert the police in the first instance. One respondent commented: “ The protocol was generally deemed a success in the period following the inception of the protocol. The number of missing person reports decreased significantly. This allowed finite resources to be targeted at those young people who were most at risk”.

While this worked very well to start with, respondents indicated that it lost some of its impact as residential social workers tended to increasingly go for the ‘red light’ due to conc erns that they would be responsible if risk was underestimated. To address this, the Young Runaways Service, in partnership with the Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care, conducted training days to make new staff aware of operationa l practice. Case studi es were used to do this (see Annex Three). Th is helped develop a broader understanding of the roles of different agencies. As one worker noted: “One of the benefits of the training is that it 135 These developments are currently be ing drafted and developed, however one respondent noted that Response Police O fficers will be asked, upon returning a missing young person, to give brief details of with the young person stipulating whether they would agree to contact from the “While this system is in the process of being designed in such a way that we can respond at some level to every in cidence of a young person being reported missing, we are aware that young people are not always reported as such. For this reason we hope to set up a dedicated phon e line and also a limited drop in specifically for those who are not reporte d, or are thinking about running, and feel they need help”. 136 Respondents indicated that a quiet calm place or refuge would be an important addition to the service if available, as it wa s noted that children’s units can be noisy and busy places. However a respondent pointe d out that there are staff shortages in residential accommodation and it may be di fficult to staff a refuge given the unpredictability of numbers usi ng the service at any time. 4. ROC Provision: Support, Refuge and Outreach 137 There is currently only one refuge in Scotland, provided by Aberlour Child Care rking between the volun tary sector, local authorities, Strathclyde Police and the Scotti sh Executive. The service is funded by the Scottish Executive, Greater Glasgow H ealth Board, The Railway Children Trust, Aberlour Childcare Trust and the Big Lott ery and is availabl e to young people who have run away from the family home or lo cal authority care. The refuge can house up to three young people at any one time a nd young people are supported to help them 138 The refuge works in conjunction with the ROC Outreach Project which offers children and young people, who run away or are at risk of running away, a confidential and independent service. The type of service offered by ROC Outreach staff depends on the young person’s situation and can include: advocacy, mediation, individual support, information, counselling, links with other serv ices, and assistance with finding safe, temporary accommodation if required. Work is carried out with 139 The Aberlour ROC Refuge was develope d to accommodate a maximum of three young people at any one time a nd to serve th e local authority areas of Glasgow, its surrounding areas (f or example East Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire.) Young people can stay in or access refuge accommodation 24 hours per day, seven days per week through the operation of an on-call syst em. A 24 hour helpline ensures that young people can make contact with the refuge whenever support is required. The evidence to date indicates that this is an important service for vulnerable young “ROC Project has successfully supported a very vulnerable young runaway, offered liaison work with the area social work team and the young persons’ family. This young person had mental health concerns and would have been ver y easily exploited “ROC Service is very child–centred –prov ides positive advocacy support to young people, has over time devel oped effective communication links with local social workers / other CHCP staff. Very committe d to inter-agency working and developing joint protocols” 146 The combination of outreach wo rk, refuge accommodation and ongoing aftercare provision for young people who wish to make use of these resources is important in delivering a comprehensive and linked up service for young people. While the costs of such a service are signifi cant, ROC managers have consistently set out to design and deliver a high quality, effective refuge service while, at the same time, keeping costs to a minimum. The i nnovative system of staffing the refuge has kept costs relatively low. This costing in cludes post-refuge outreach work for up to three months with young people who use this resource and compar es favourably with 147 As the scoping study has shown, the refuge is used by young people from a range of local authorities and it may be usef ul to consider the viability of a cross local-authority resour runaways, notably with Barnardo’s and Ab erlour ROC. One respondent commented: “We are currently reviewing with Aberlour our use of ROC to identify trends and patterns to see whether we can better develop our response”.

Several local authorities indicated that they had commissioned tr aining aimed at improving awareness of the issues facing young people and the need for informed responses. 153 One respondent noted that: “CPC are currently devising Vulnerabl e Children Good Practice Guidance and a protocol for staff (the vu lnerable children sub-group includes social services, education, police, health, SCRA, housing). Al so need to look at more consistent preventative strategy – have had training deli vered 4-6 times per year by Barnardo’s 154 Respondents were asked to comment on any factors they could identify which had helped them to develop and provide appropriate responses to young runaways. Examples given included the following: Concern from the police about the number of young people going missing from care led to the development of High level of commitment from workers; Effective joint work/multi agency forums; Good relationships between social wo Responding to Scottish Executive guidance; ared agency wish to develop more 155 When asked what factors, if any, had cr eated challenges in the development of services, a number of issues were identified: Lack of suitable accommodation locally; Perceived small numbers of young people who ran away; Need for cross-authority co-operation; Complexity of systems in place to report missing children and young people; 161 The scoping study has identified con tinued confusion about the use of definitions and appropriate responses, with the recommendations contained in the Scottish Executive Guidance (2003) not widely implemented. Current practice, as reported in this study, raises a number of key issues. Lack of accurate information to id entify the scale of this problem e real problems facing young people and service providers are as running from home and from care Runaways from home receive a poor service yet ther e is apparent compliance with guidance because attention is focused on young people missing from care Young people who run away are often s ituated within wider groups (i.e. Statistics and services are often The importance of effective joint wo When young people who are looked there is more likelihood of a co-ordinat ed inter-agency response including information sharing Lack of assessment for young people who run from home would suggest their needs may not be identified Systems which reduce the number of young people reported to the police as missing may not improve the situation for young people unless additional services are put in place The availability of refuge provision or suitable emergency accommodation is important in keeping young people sa fe and providing an environment be useful for police, especially Some resources, e.g. refuge and help line would not be sustainable on a Overall considerations Need for strategic approach – rath er than simply another strategy If data about frequency of running away is not collected there is a danger that resources will be diverted into areas that are ‘measured’ and have ‘targets’ Scottish Executive (2003a) Vulnerable Children and Young People: Legislative Edinburgh: Scottish Executive. Scottish Executive (2003b: 6) Vulnerable Children and Young People: Young Edinburgh: Scottish Executive. Scottish Executive (2003c) Vulnerable Children and Young People: Sexual Exploitation through Prostitution, Edinburgh: Scottish Executive. Scottish Executive (2007) Getting It Right For Every Child, Edinburgh: Scottish Scottish Office (1998) Protecting Children, A Shared Responsibility, Scottish Office. Smeaton, E. (2005) Living on the Edge: the Experiences of Detached Young Smeaton, E. and Rees, G. (2004) Safe@Last/The Children’s Society. Social Exclusion Unit (2002) London: Office of the Deputy Prime Wade, J. (2001) Missing Out: Young Runaways in Scotland, Stirling: Aberlour Child 48 Preventative accommodation Follow-up Aberdeen City No Yes- Children’s Unit Yes- Runaways Aberdeenshire Not known Not known Not known Not known Yes Yes- Young people’s unit & foster care Yes Not specified Argyll and Bute Yes Yes- ROC Refuge Yes Not specified Yes Yes- residential unit & foster care Yes Streetwork Not specified Clackmannanshire Yes No information No information Not specified Comhairle nan Yes- local helpline Yes- NCH accommodation & foster care Not specified Dumfries and No information No No Not specified Dundee City Not known No Yes Yes East Ayrshire Yes No Yes Not specified East Dunbartonshire No information No information No info No info No information No information No info No info East Renfrewshire Yes No Yes Yes Falkirk No information No information No information Not specified No information No information Yes Not known Glasgow City Yes Yes – ROC Refuge Yes – Barnardos’ Street team Highland – housing services flat and resid accomm No Not specified No Yes – residential unit and foster care Yes Not specified Yes No Yes – Street work Not specified Yes Yes – self-contained bedsit in crisis unit yes Not specified North Ayrshire Yes No Yes Not specified North Lanarkshire No Yes – scatter flats, accommodation No Yes Orkney islands Yes No Yes Individual Perth and Kinross Yes No Yes Not specified Renfrewshire Yes No No Not specified Scottish Borders No No No Not specified Shetland Islands No information No information No information Not specified South Ayrshire Not known No Not known Not specified South Lanarkshire Yes Yes – ROC refuge Yes – ROC Yes Yes No information No information Not specified West Dunbartonshire Yes No Yes Not specified West Lothian Yes No No information Not specified Follow up services could include return home inte rviews, outreach or other non-specified services Confirm that every child or young pers on who runs away should have the opportunity of discussing with a professional the reasons for their running away, the risks of it occurring again and what action needs to be undertaken to reduce risk. Recognise that the interview with the child or young person may identify child Recognise that childre n and young people who run away are often experiencing serious problems in their lives; young person or the wider family; Remind professionals of the need to be aware of signs that the child or young person may have been involved in high -risk activity or abuse during their Emphasise the importance of informa tion both in identif young people at risk and in building up a pr ofile to help determine the priority rating for an individual child or young pe rson in substitute care should they Recognise that for some children and young people running away will be a Stress the importance of welcoming a ch ild or young person who returns to a residential establishment ha the local G.U.M. Clinic for emergency contraception. Details of her associations were now largely unclear. The second part of Jane’s case study is situated in residential care and has been used in joint training on the Missi ng Persons Protocol for Young People in Residential Care which is in plac e in the area. It is designed to illicit discussion around level of ri sk and grading of the youn g people in question in relation to the traffic light system at t he core of the protocol. The discussion questions from the training have been in cluded as well as possible responses from Children’s Unit Staff which corre late to the guidance offered within the protocol (For further information on the protocol see Pg.32 of this document). s placed in a children’s unit as an emergency. She has a large network of friends in the Aberdeen City area. She has been known to abuse cannabis and has self harmed in the past. Since her admission she has gone missi ng on a daily basis. She has been found in the company of a 20 year old ma le and it is suspected that she is involved in a sexual relationship with hi m. At 1020 hours this morning she ran Sharon is 13 and has been at the unit for two months. She was placed there as she is out with parental control. Sh e also has a large net work of friends. She frequently shoplifts and it is suspec ted that she deals and uses speed. Both girls have mobile phones with t What is the category of risk for eac h of the young people and how have you While historically the temptation may have been for Unit Staff to err on the side of caution and report the girls on Red (the highest risk category) it would probably be the case that considering the time of day they would both be graded Green. If too many young people are report ed red without proper adherence to the protocol then too much strain is placed on finite Police resources. Ultimately this could l ead to those young people at genuine high and immediate risk being put at greater ri sk as the resources which should be actively attempting to trace t hem have been deployed elsewhere. A Green Grading does not necessitate the involvement of the Police. Instead it allows unit staff the opportunity to make their own enqu iries; phone call to parents to inform them that Jane and Sharon are missing and to enquire if they had heard from the gi rls; phoning round other known family members, friends, associates. If there was enough staff on duty then staff may go out Unit staff may well at this point be ar guing strongly for the girls to be graded red. The duty Sergeant may agree or he may not. A negotiation often takes place at this stage. It may be agreed t hat the girls remain amber for another hour before being upgraded. While the prot ocol provides guidance there is no definitive right or wrong answer to be glean ed. In effect the grading decision is a judgement call made by the duty se rgeant and based on the information at Both Jane and Sharon were traced by Police and returned to the unit when he had made good choices and times wh en he made poor choices and that would him to gain insight into his behaviour. Social work services were accessed and the case allocated. He won a repeat place at college for the following year. oved greatly by his judgement and theirs. is a 16 year old boy with a learning Living in a chaotic family in poor conditions, he had refused to go home from school one day, stayed until extra curricular activ ities were over but eventually did return home, however, the next day he appeared at school dirty and unke mpt. He was given ROC treated this as priority and the young person was seen at school where he disclosed abuse at home The young person was seen by ROC in a priv ate room in the school. As it became clear that he was about to make disclosures, he was asked if he would like his teacher to be present. He declined, but after making the disclosures was told that in order to make sure that he stayed safe, his teacher and social work services would have to be told. He asked to be present while the disc ussion with his teacher took place and he ly told the school that he was leaving to attend college (at his parent’s instigatio n) his uncertainty wa s noticed and he was enabled to change that decision. The head mistress was relieved as he believed that ROC contacted social services who had already begun an investigation based on earlier alleged physical abuse. As the refuge and social work had no appropriate place available, he was admitted to the ROC refuge where he remained for 7 days. During that time there was a Children’s Hearing which was attended by a refuge worker. His pare nts were present and became angry and their son’s return home. The case was referred to the Sheriff for proof while the young person was accommodated by social work services. The young person is adamant that he will not return home and that if he is made to, he will be in grave danger from his father. He has ongoing contact with ROC Outreach an d continues to be supported to make any further disclosures and to come to term s with his past. A pr oof Court Hearing is imminent and ROC Outreach worker has b een cited as a witness. Should the young person seek refuge again he will be helped by the Outreach worker to access this and any other appropriate resources. Links will be maintained with social work services and the school. The young person says that he feels very safe in the school and the atmosphere and ethic there is de person and her grandmother, who is very important in her life, but who was previously barred from contact by her mother. There is current input from y agency, social services, education, grandmother, care workers. 60 supervision. The projects endeavour to maintain young people within the community, to control their offending behaviour and prom ote social inclusion and reintegration of those in residential in stitutions. They aim to meet the support need s of young people troubled transition to adulthood and to promote their wider social inclusion. It is the qua lity of supervision that is is one of the UK’s leading children’s char ities, helping children achieve their full potential. Its services aim to support some of the UK’s most vulnerable and excluded children and young people.NCH was founded in 1869 and known for many years as the National Children’s Home. The agency works with children, young people and families who face difficulties such as poverty, disability and abuse. NCH runs more than 500 projects for some of the UK’s most vulnerable and excluded children and young people, and their families, supporting over 160,000 people at children’s centres throughout the UK; it al so promote social campaigning for change.NCH is the leadi ng UK provider of family and community centres, children’s services in rural areas, services for disabled children and their families, and services for young people leaving care. Running – Other Choices (ROC) was the first project in Scotland to focus on runaways and was set up to work with ch ildren under the age of 16 within Glasgow and East Renfrewshire. ROC currently offers vital support to children and young people of all ages and from all walks of lif e who run away or are at risk of running C Refuge which was set up in 2003, ROC has an Outreach Service which works with young people expe within their home such as abuse, neglect, persistent conflict or who need to escape from their parents’ own problems such as drug and alco hol abuse or mental illness. Streetwork UK was set up in 1992 to tackle the problem of youth gangs in Edinburgh’s city centre but very quickly found many young people on the streets in drugs and involved in crime. The project sta ff are out on the street s every night of the year, in all weathers. They l ook for the most vulnerable an d give them crisis support, making sure they are safe and helping them to access emergency accommodation. In the housing estates, the proj ect in involved in educating young people to help them stay off drugs, away from crime, and to ma ke better choices about sexual health. The project aims to guide young people towards a better life, educa opportunities. The Runaways Action Pr ogramme also provides a much-needed service to young people who runaway from home or care in Edinburgh. It promotes the Runaways Helpline offering young people 24 hours a day. It also takes referrals from st atutory and voluntary partners such as the police, social The Young Runaways Service is a joint initiative aimed at ‘increasing the safety, and reducing the number of, young people accommodated in residential units, residential school and foster care in Aberd een who run away’. The service was set up following concerns by Grampian Police about the risks facing young people who

Authors / Editors

Prof Margaret Malloch

University of Stirling

Research Themes

Young People and Youth Justice