NSPCC fears that children will be put at risk
The Association of Chief Police Officers has announced that police forces will move towards a new approach to risk assessing and responding to missing person cases that aims to better protect children and vulnerable adults
From April 2013, a new definition will give police forces a tool to identify and direct resources towards those cases where they consider missing persons to be at most risk of harm.
ACPO lead for missing people Chief Constable Pat Geenty said:
“Every year there are around 327,000 reports of missing people, nearly 900 a day. Behind these numbers are friends and families undergoing enormous distress and the police service is committed to doing as much as we can to bring their loved ones home safely.
“The police are often the first agency to take a missing person report and our aim is to ensure we get the best possible response to those most at risk of harm. This means identifying these cases early so that policing resources go where they are most needed.
“Safeguarding children and vulnerable adults requires a multi-agency response and both police and partners agree on the need to move beyond a ‘one-size fits all’ response. We have worked closely with partners and the College of Policing to ensure we use their knowledge and expertise in this area. That input has helped to shape the pilot and our implementation plans and we believe the new approach will better protect children and vulnerable adults.”
The new definition distinguishes between people who are:
Absent – not at a place where they are expected or required to be.
Missing – not at the place they are expected to be but the circumstances are out of character or the context suggests they may be subject of a crime or at risk of harm to themselves or others.
Dave Tucker, head of policy at the NSPCC, said:
“We are very concerned that the new definition of ‘missing persons’ will put vulnerable children at risk of being groomed and sexually exploited. The length of time a child goes missing is irrelevant because they can fall into the clutches of abusers very quickly.”
The ACPO interim guidance on missing people is published from the link below.