THE ENABLING STATE: FROM RHETORIC TO REALITY
Young people who repeatedly reported as missing were identified as an acute problem that could benefit from collaborative working and a greater citizen focus. The Gwent Missing Children and Young People Project was developed with the support of the Acting Chief Constable and ESVG. Every year, hundreds of children and young people go missing in Gwent, many of them multiple times. Despite the significant costs to public services in responding to these incidents, it was felt more could be done to address underlying issues and to reduce the likelihood of the child going missing again in the future. In April, 2011, work to redesign the service began. Central to the design of a new collaborative service was the commissioning of an independent consultation with young people who had been missing and their carers. The feedback and experiences of the people directly affected by the current service shaped the development of the new multi-agency hub in Gwent. The hub facilitates closer joint working and ‘deep’ information sharing between public sector services and third sector partners. Now when a young person goes missing in Gwent, the aim is to rapidly build up a comprehensive understanding of that young person and their circumstances so that the response from the police and other agencies is proportionate and effective. When the young person is returned, they are offered a ‘debrief’ session with an independent ‘third sector’ partner – this not only allows the young person to be connected with appropriate specialist services for further support anything from peer mentoring and family mediation to specialists in child sexual exploitation), but also gathers vital feedback and information for the multi-agency hub.