Every year an estimated 200,000 people go missing in the UK. The vast majority are vulnerable and need protection and support.
As well as the children and adults who go missing, hundreds of thousands of relatives and families are affected and in the worst cases, families can be left for years wondering what has happened to loved ones.
Today’s missing children and adults strategy outlines the roles and responsibilities for government and local agencies including police, local authorities and health services in tackling the issue.
Help and advice for those who need it most
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.’
Prevention, protection and provision
The strategy sets out three key objectives:
- 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
The strategy makes clear the government’s expectation that all agencies have a targeted, proactive plan in place. This includes the police who will need to ensure all families of missing persons are automatically signposted to support services.
And it sets out how government will strengthen the national arrangements for protecting missing people by transferring the Missing Persons Bureau to the new National Crime Agency.
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. For the first time the UK has a dedicated response focused on missing children issues.
Consulting with partners
We have consulted with a range of partners including ACPO, Missing People, the Children’s Society, PACT, Government departments, CEOP, the Missing Persons Bureau at the NPIA and the Welsh Government.
Alongside today’s strategy, a new Child Exploitation and Protection Centre website was launched 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.
Parents whose child is missing can also access links and information about a range of service providers including Missing People, Parentline, and the NSPCC helpline.