A protocol to safeguard young people has been launched in County Durham and Darlington.
The Philomena Protocol, named after the patron saint of babies, infants and youths, is the first of its kind in the country being introduced by Durham Constabulary.
Building on the success and learning from the Herbert Protocol (an initiative to support adults who are at risk of going missing), the Philomena Protocol will roll out into 48 children’s homes across the force area by later this year.
Working alongside partners in the council, it encourages carers, staff, families and friends to compile useful information which could be used in the event of a young person going missing from care.
The streamlined joint approach is a step towards protecting some of the most vulnerable, young adults in County Durham and Darlington.
Any child who is at risk of wandering or going missing for any reason is encompassed within this protocol.
Durham Constabulary’s Crime and Harm Reduction Inspector Rachel Stockdale said: “It is important we have in place a sensible, joined up approach to prevent young people from going missing in the first place, and ensures that the procedures for when people do go missing are robust and effective.”
The scheme protects the young and vulnerable whilst respecting and understanding their need for independence
Deputy Chief Constable Jo Farrell said: “There is nothing more distressing than when a young person goes missing and does not return home when expected.
“The Philomena Protocol will help adults to locate the young person and return them to safety as quickly as possible.”
If used effectively, the protocol will develop links between residents, families, care providers and our local police teams which will ensure that there are well established relationships within all sections of the communities served by Durham Constabulary.
The scheme will save time and resources but most importantly it has potential to save lives of our vulnerable people, by working with children’s homes to establish patterns of behaviour, places they frequently visit, keeping an up-to-date photograph and medication list on hand and if they do go missing completing a standardised form which will make the emergency services response to the enquiry more efficient.
Ron Hogg, Durham Police, Crime & Victims’ Commissioner, added: “This new protocol is a fabulous idea, and will help to further enhance the excellent partnership working in place across County Durham and Darlington. It will help to protect our young people when they are at the most vulnerable and enable services to respond quickly.”
If you require further information or think you know someone who should be a part of the Philomena Protocol, please contact us via [email protected]