Return Interview Service

Statutory guidance on children who run away or who are reported missing states, that when a child is found or returns home or to care, they should be offered an independent return interview.  (DfE, 2014:14)

The key advantage of return interviews are to identify people at risk; understand the risks and issues faced whilst missing, aim to reduce those risks and equip children and young people with the resources and knowledge of how to stay safe if they do choose to run away again. (DfE, 2014:15-16)

A return interview is an in depth discussion of identifying and dealing with any harm a child may have experienced, or tries to understand and address the push and pull factors around the child’s missing episode. The purpose of the interview is to help the child feel safe, by exploring alternative options to running away. This includes providing information and helping the young person to develop a plan to encourage them to seek support and advice, rather than run away and also to equip them with information and skills to keep them safe if they continue to go missing.

All return interviews for Leeds children and young people living in the West Yorkshire region are carried out by the Return Interview Service. This service is provided in Leeds by the Youth Offer Improvement Team. For further information contact:

Where children known to the Return Interview Service are repeatedly missing, the information obtained in the return interview should inform whether professional intervention is to be considered, to explore what support and guidance may be available to the child and their family, and whether they wish to access this support.

If a child has a social worker it may be more appropriate for them to offer the child a return interview. This should be offered within 72 hours. The social worker should analyse the current needs of the child, what has happened regarding them being missing identifying any patterns, and consider what additional support is or may be required to prevent future missing episodes.

Return Interview Service leaflet for young people

Return Interview Service leaflet