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Missing children - The Philomena Protocol

The Philomena Protocol, named after the patron saint of babies, infants and youths is the first of its kind in the country and was 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 has rolled out into children’s homes across the Force area and across the country.


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, and they will be responsible for keeping it up to date. Any child who is at risk of wandering or going missing for any reason is encompassed within this protocol.

The scheme protects the young and vulnerable whilst respecting and understanding their need for independence.

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 our communities.

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. If they do go missing, children’s homes have a completed form and a plan to follow before contacting the Police, making our response to the enquiry more efficient with up to date information.

The Philomena Protocol, like the Herbert Protocol is a live form. The police do not hold this form, it is held by a child’s individual parent or carer. It is down to them to keep the form up to date with current information that would be relevant if that child was to go missing. It also gives the parent/carer a guidance on what needs to be completed before they contact the police to report a child missing, which includes hospital checks.