A NORTH-EAST police force has launched its protocol to reduce the time taken to find missing vulnerable children.

Cleveland Police, which has introduced the new protocol with children's homes and council partners, said it will allow carers, staff, families and friends to compile necessary information to assist the force find a young person missing from care.

The protocol aims to save valuable fact-finding time when a report of a missing young person is filed.

Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Simon Walker said: "The introduction of the Philomena Protocol will see efficient information sharing between children’s homes and local authorities when young people go missing."

Temp Det Chf Insp Walker said the protocol "builds on the success" of a scheme that was previously introduced to help speed up the finding of missing people living with dementia.

He said: "The protocol focuses on protecting vulnerable young people, whilst understanding their need for independence. Any child or young person at risk of going missing, for any reason, is encompassed within this.

"It could have the potential to save lives.”

On Monday, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger, said: "Protecting vulnerable people is one of my key priorities so I’m pleased to support the implementation of the protocol in Cleveland.

“Any time we can save in starting the search for a vulnerable missing young person is crucial and could even save a life.”