News story

UK’s child protection centre to lead national response on missing children

A new dedicated team of experts from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) centre will strengthen and lead the UK’s ability to respond to missing children, Home Office minister James Brokenshire announced today.

Speaking on International Missing Children’s Day, the minister outlined that CEOP will, from 1 July, take the national lead for missing children’s services.

Through the creation of the UK’s first ever team of experts dedicated to tackling missing children issues, CEOP will bring their considerable expertise to bear and ensure the right arrangements are in place to protect vulnerable children.

Minister for crime and security James Brokenshire said: ‘Around 230,000 missing children reports are made in the UK every year. The risks children are exposed to are severe and the harm they suffer can be very serious so it is crucial we can act quickly.

‘CEOP’s new responsibility for national missing children’s services means they can bring their significant child protection expertise to tackle this important issue.’

The new team will lead the national response working in partnership with police forces, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the wider child protection community. They will also provide preventative support through the provision of educational tools, products and training to children and professionals, as well as direct operational support to local forces.

Peter Davies, chief executive of CEOP, said: ‘Today’s announcement is about CEOP providing a national focus for missing children within the policing community and continuing to do what is fundamental to our role - co-ordinating all sectors so that front line practitioners, parents and of course children get the best advice, service and response that collectively we can offer.

‘Partnership will be our key theme. We will look to learn, analyse and contribute our expertise to the wider policing community; we will work with children and parents to raise awareness of the risks and the options and we will put into the hands of any investigation our collective specialism to reach rapid and effective conclusions.  We will also work to ensure that the causes of children going missing are understood and addressed after their return.’

Lady Catherine Meyer, Parents and Abducted Children Together (PACT), said: ‘This announcement is excellent news for all vulnerable children. It is something that PACT has been campaigning for, for nearly a decade. For the first time in the UK there will be a single national centre, bringing together in one place the resources and expertise of government, police, NGOs and the private sector.

‘These changes also send a strong message that crimes against children will not go unpunished and that this government takes children’s issues very seriously.’

CEOP’s new capability will provide operational support to the police through resources such as the Child Rescue Alert system and the MissingKids website. It will also ensure arrangements are in place to co-ordinate the collective response to complex cases of missing and abducted children.

Martin Houghton-Brown, chief executive of the charity Missing People, said: We are delighted that CEOP will be joining the front line of services to help find and protect missing children. Their expertise in safeguarding vulnerable children and extensive work in education will help to ensure the safety of thousands of young people.

‘Today, on International Missing Children’s Day, as the charity Missing People raises awareness of dozens of missing children on Twitter, we are glad to be supporting an organisation with such a significant presence online”.

Notes to editors

1. CEOP’s work safeguarding children and young people off and online has seen 624 children safeguarded, 1,131 people arrested and 262 high risk sex offender networks dismantled. The ClickCEOP button is now widely available to report abuse or suspicious behaviour online and their education programme ‘Think U Know’ has reached nearly 8 million children.

2. CEOP will assume responsibility for national missing children’s services on 1 July from the National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA) Missing Person’s Bureau. The NPIA Missing Persons Bureau will continue to maintain the national missing person’s database, provide cross-matching with the unidentified body parts database and provide support for missing adults’ services.

3. The new CEOP capability will include:

  • the provision of educational resources and of training for the police;

  • supporting police operations through targeted research and analysis (for example development of problem profiles on the nature and scale of the issues and emerging trends);

  • providing operational support for forces and missing children by extending the CEOP ‘one stop shop’ to include online missing children resources; and

  • ensuring co-ordination arrangements and capability are in place to manage complex or high profile missing children cases.

4. For more information contact the Home Office press office on 020 7035 3535.