Here at ICEtags HQ we're passionate about safety and security. With the summer holidays now upon us and lots of fetes and family funs days being organised, we thought we'd put together some top tips for writing a lost child procedure.
We hope you find them useful!
It’s everyone’s nightmare, parents and event organisers alike. Of course, the paramount reason for having a lost child procedure is to help ensure children stay safe at your event. However, there is another side to this coin – it enables your staff to act quickly, effectively and appropriately. And this protects them from unnecessary problems in the future.
First things first…
If children are likely to attend an event you’re organising, you should obtain a DBS check for all staff who will be in contact with them. However, these sort of security checks aren’t the focus for this article. What we’d like to set out here are suggestions for a useful procedure for staff to follow on the day.
So, what should your procedure cover?
The key focus for any lost child procedure is to facilitate a child being reunited with their parent/carer swiftly but without causing undue stress and worry. A fine balance needs to be struck, so this is what we suggest.
A lost child procedure should:
- State where the agreed collection point(s) is/are.
- State that the collection point is where staff should direct lost children, and parents/carers of lost children.
- Ensure an entry is made on the Lost Persons Log
The procedure should also then set out a pathway for each of the following two situations:
1. For when a child is found without their parent/carer
This should cover the following aspects:
- When a child appears to be lost, they should be approached and asked if they know where their parent/carer is.
- If they are lost or have been separated from their parent/carer and don’t know where that person is, they should be led to the collection point and encouraged to stay there whilst staff try to locate the adult.
- During this time, they should be gently asked for as much information as possible. This should include:
- Who they are with
- Where they last saw them
- What their parent/carer looks like and are wearing
- If the child is brought to the collection point by another person, that person should be asked for as much information as possible too.
- A search should then be initiated. This will depend on the technology available and what has been agreed in advance, but may, for example, be via:
- Radio communication
- An announcement made via a PA system
- Mobile phones
- Word of mouth
- It is a good idea to operate a code system for any communication that might be overheard so that details of the child’s or parent’s names are not divulged.
- Details should be set out of how to escalate the matter if the child is not reunited with their parent within a set length of time. Eg. 30 minutes. This may be to report the matter to the police, for example.
2. For when a child is reported missing.
This should cover the following aspects:
- The parent/carer should be reassured that a procedure exists and action is going to be taken immediately.
- The member of staff should ask for as much information about the child as possible. For example, name, age, sex, ethnic origin, hair colour, build, clothing, location last seen and who else they may be with.
- The parent/carer should be encouraged to return to the collection point regularly if they choose to continue to search for their child… in case the child is found.
- A search should then be initiated, utilising the methods of communication chosen in advance, eg. PA announcement, radios, mobile phones, text messaging etc.
- It is a good idea to operate a code system for any communications that might be overheard so that details of the child’s or parent’s names are not divulged
- If the child is not found, the matter should be escalated to arrange a complete search of the site utilising all security and staff.
- Details of how to escalate the matter if the child is not reunited with their parent within a set length of time. Eg. 30 minutes should be documented clearly. This may be to report the matter to the police, for example.
A lost child procedure should also set out the path of action a member of staff should follow if a child seems reluctant to go with an adult. This may include:
- Speaking gently to the child, away from the adult, to understand why
- Asking for proof of ID
- Escalate the matter to the police if necessary
It’s important to remember that different events will present different problems with regard to children getting lost or separated from their parent/carer. Organisers should meet and discuss these well in advance of the event, and ensure that any procedure clearly sets out the steps a member of staff should follow if a child is reported missing, or found separated from their parent/carer. Forward planning and consideration is critical for drawing up the right procedure for your event.
To learn about how ICEtags (In Case of Emergency contact information tags, worn on the child’s shoes or clothing) can help quickly and safely reunite a lost child with their parent/carer, please click here.
If you have any questions contact us:
Telephone: 03333 444122