There are numerous reasons that can lead to a child going missing or running away. As a parent or carer for a child or young person, you play a really important role in helping them to stay safe. 

My child is missing / has run away

Children run away for a number of reasons, on most occasions they return home safely. 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 (or you can find details of your local force at:

The organisations below can help put you in touch with support, advice and information, but always remember to inform the police.

Getting in touch with local services:

  • Missing People: can put you in touch with support services in your area. Contact us for free, 24/7 on 116 000 or find out more here. We also offer 24 hour support, advice and practical help if you are affected by a child going missing from home. You can contact us for free on 116 000, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Local Police: Call 101 for your local police force. 

My child has been abducted - Parental Child Abduction

This occurs when a parent or relative, or someone acting on their behalf, removes a child from approved custody or violates their custody agreement. Parental child abduction is a criminal offence. If you believe that your child has been or is at risk of being abducted or, if your child has been taken overseas without your consent, call the police immediately.

If your child is taken abroad, the Hague Convention states that the country the child is taken to must respect the custody decision of the country of origin. This principle is upheld by all countries that have ratified the convention, including the UK. If you think your child has been taken to a country outside the Hague Convention, then there are official channels within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

Help and advice:

  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO): Their child abduction unit can be contacted on 020 7008 0878, Monday to Friday (09:30 to 17:00), or another member of consular staff out of hours on 020 7008 1500.
  • The Ministry of Justice International Child Abduction and Contact Unit: Their website offers information on action to take if you think your child is at risk of abduction and a list of specialist solicitors.  They can also be contacted on 020 7911 7127, Monday to Friday (09:00 to 17:00).
  • Action Against Abduction: Their website hosts a variety of advice and guidelines for parents.
  • Reunite: Is the leading UK charity specialising in parental child abduction and the movement of children accross international borders.

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