Statutory guidance published by the Department for Education states that upon their return all missing children should “be offered an independent return interview. Independent return interviews provide an opportunity to uncover information that can help protect children from the risk of going missing again, from risks they may have been exposed to while missing or from risk factors in their home.”
Delivery of these interviews is the responsibility of each individual local authority. This allows local authorities to ensure that they have a service in place that is appropriate to the needs of children in their area, however, it also means that provision can be inconsistent and young people are faced with a ‘postcode lottery’ of services.
There is relatively little guidance on how return interviews should be delivered, and some research, as well as anecdotal experience amongst ECRC members, suggests that children in some areas are receiving poor quality, ineffective interviews.
The ECRC identified the need for more information about return interviews, particularly around what good practice looks like. Members worked collaboratively to develop a briefing based on their experience of delivering interviews to children and young people across the country.
We intend to use this document to campaign for improvements to statutory guidance.