Police Scotland is rolling out an award-winning scheme aimed at ensuring officers are better equipped to find children and young people earlier whenever they are reported missing.
The Philomena Protocol, which is named after the patron saint of babies, infants and youths, was the first of its kind in the UK after being introduced by Durham Constabulary in January 2019.
The protocol is primarily targeted towards children and young people living in care facilities and foster encourages carers, staff, families and friends to compile a standardised form of useful information which could be used in the event of a young person going missing.
The type of information on the form will include interests, places of significance, friends and trusted people. These details will be used to ensure that police can establish the whereabouts of a missing child more speedily.
The Philomena Protocol has been developed following the success and learning from the Herbert Protocol, an initiative to support adults who are at risk of going missing.
From Monday, 29 May 2023, Police Scotland’s 13 territorial divisions will begin utilising the Philomena Protocol.
Inspector Alasdair Paterson from Police Scotland’s Partnerships, Preventions and Community Wellbeing Unit, said: “Whenever a child or young person is reported missing, time is of the essence when trying to find them and often the first part of an investigation is spent obtaining a variety of pertinent information.
As part of the Philomena Protocol, this information will now be readily available within the standardised form and this may prove vital in quickly locating any youth subject to a missing person investigation.
“While there is an onus on parents, guardians and carers of children to ensure this information is accurate and up to date, the young person whom the form relates to can and should also contribute. This may help them understand how important their safety is and the level of police resource that is used whenever they are reported missing, not to mention the distress it can cause for their loved ones and care givers.”