Each year over 250,000 reports of missing people in the UK.
According to latest reports virtually 50% of missing people in the UK are aged between 15 and 21. There could be many reasons why this happens, there is no specific reason why. While the majority are found safe and well, the National Crime Agency (NCA) says it’s important to understand why and to try and avoid it happening again.
“Going missing is a symptom that something’s wrong,” says Sherri McAra, manager of the NCA’s missing children’s team. Most of them choose to run away because they feel unhappy or are unsafe in their homes or in care.”It could be arguments with their parents, up to more serious physical or emotional abuse. The reasons why people go missing are quite complex.”
Last year over 250,000 calls were made to police in England, Wales and Scotland to report missing people in the UK. Whilst two thirds of people go missing on purpose, it may not mean they want to. Usually, they are trying to escape problems with money. relationships,or just a feeling that they cannot cope anymore and it is really a cry for help.
“Particularly for people with depression, they might feel that there’s no hope, and just need time away,” says Dr Karen Shalev Greene, director of the Centre for the Study of Missing Persons at the University of Portsmouth. She added that this is usually people with depression often find it hard to talk about how they’re feeling. “They might be what we call functionally depressed. The image is that they’re fine but they’re crumbling inside, and at some point they just can’t hide it any more, so they’ll just leave.”
Children and young people in care homes and foster care are far more likely to run away and go missing in the UK than those who have a settled home environment, this is because they feel secure in their lives. “Unfortunately something has happened in their life that’s meant they’ve been placed in care so they already have an increased level of vulnerability, They’re being placed into somewhere they don’t know very well, they’re having to live with other children who have their own vulnerabilities and concerns. Sometimes children are moved to different care homes, so they feel less secure in terms of whether they’ll be staying there for any length of time.”
Unfortunately many young people are sent to care homes outside the area they grew up in. When they run away and go missing in the UK, they are often going to see the people or places they’re familiar with. A place where they feel secure and wanted. It has been known for Social Workers to report them missing in the UK even if they know where they have gone, this is because they are felt to be at risk of harm.
Research shows young people who go missing in the UK tend to be at greater risk of being sexually exploited than the ones who have a stable home life. Usually, this is when an older person manipulate the situation for their own gratification in return for gifts, money or the false promise of love.
Police forces in England and Wales have been criticised for the way they deal with people missing in the UK in the past and are taking steps to improve the way that all reports are handled. The police watchdog says children who go missing are being left at risk of serious harm because of “unacceptable inconsistencies” in the way police respond.
If you’re thinking of going missing or running away, if you’re already away from home, or if someone you care about is missing. You can call or text Missing People in the UK on 116 000 or email email@example.com.