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BLOG: The story behind the headlines… Missing People

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You’ve all seen the media appeals for missing people – but have you stopped to think why these people go missing? And what help is out there for them? Police Constable Elle Smith explains all...

You’ve all seen the media appeals for missing people – but have you stopped to think why these people go missing? And what help is out there for them?

As police officers we spend a lot of time working with people who go missing. We can be out searching for them, conducting welfare visits, once they are found or working on strategies behind the scenes to get them the help they deserve.

Why do people go missing…

Every day people go ‘missing’ for a variety of reasons. There may have mental health issues, suffering with alcohol or drug abuse, have debts or gambling issues they want to escape from or leave an abusive or unhappy relationship – whatever the reason, no-one should feel they need to simply disappear.

What support is there for people who have gone missing or are vulnerable to going missing…

Every missing person, once found, is visited by an officer to ensure they are safe and well. If that person is an adult we won’t disclose their location unless we feel there is a need to do so for their safety.

It is different for missing children though – we need to make sure there isn’t a problem at home or any other reason why they shouldn’t be taken home. If there is an issue we will explore other options to keep the child safe and away from harm.

I must stress these people are not in any trouble!

In York work in conjunction with the Pathways project who act as a gateway into support services for adults – it is free, personalised, one-to-one support for those adults experiencing mental distress. Many of these people have repeat contact with emergency service or are at risk of entering the criminal justice system.

What if a missing person or someone who is vulnerable to going missing doesn’t want to talk to police?

We understand that speaking with the police can be daunting for anyone and even more so if a person is in mental distress. If you don’t want to talk to us we won’t take it personally, but we will direct you to other organisations which can help you.

We understand that you might go missing again because of problems you’re facing. If you do, then your family, carers and friends will be worried about you and are likely to contact us for help to find you. They just want to make sure you are ok. If you think someone may have reported you missing, you can help put their mind at rest by making contact with us.

If you are concerned for a person who has gone missing please contact police immediately.

Last modified: August 16, 2018