A new strategy setting out how government and local partners will ensure missing people and their families are provided with better protection and support has been unveiled by Crime and Security minister James Brokenshire.
The new missing children and adults strategy sends a strong message to local agencies about the risks faced by missing children and adults and outlines the roles and responsibilities for government and local agencies including police, local authorities and health services in tackling the issue.
The police receive an estimated 360,000 reports of missing people every year. Many of these are repeat incidents involving the same individuals going missing a number of times. Nevertheless, these figures amount to approximately 200,000 people going missing every year. Children and young people are more likely to go missing than adults with approximately two thirds of reports relating to children in 2009/10.
The strategy provides for the first time three key objectives and asks local areas to consider whether they can and should be doing more to address this issue:
- Prevention - reducing the number of people who go missing
- Protection - reducing the harm to those who go missing
- Provision - providing support and advice to missing persons and families by referring to agencies.
James Brokenshire said:
“When children or adults go missing, they are vulnerable and place themselves at great risk of harm and exploitation. There can also be a huge impact both on them and on their families as they deal with the consequences.
“It is vital that everyone with a role to play in safeguarding and providing support works together in order to give the right help and advice to those who need it most.
“This strategy sets the direction for local agencies to review the strategies they have in place and consider whether they can and should be doing more.'
James Brokenshire marked the launch of the new strategy by visiting the missing people charity in Mortlake, South West London, which offers specialised support to hundreds of missing people and their families every year. During the visit, the minister met with staff and families who have benefited from the charity’s support after their loved ones went missing.
The strategy follows steps already taken in July this year to enhance national support for children by transferring the bureau’s responsibility into the UK child exploitation and online protection centre (CEOP). This has ensured for the first time that the UK has a dedicated response focused on missing children issues. CEOP’s capability will further be enhanced by its inclusion in the NCA.
Alongside the strategy, CEOP has launched a new website, designed to be a 'one-stop shop' for missing children, their families and professionals seeking help.
It includes advice for young people and signposts them to the police if they feel in immediate danger, with links to local services through the charity missing people’s turn2Directory and childline.
1. The strategy can be viewed at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/police/missing-persons-strategy
2. CEOP’s new online area is at www.ceop.police.uk/missing(Opens in a new window)