More than a thousand people went missing in Northamptonshire last year

Missing People charity want more to be done to protect vulnerable people

1,150 people went missing in Northamptonshire last year
1,150 people went missing in Northamptonshire last year

Northamptonshire Police dealt with almost 3,000 missing person incidents in 2018-19, figures from the National Crime Agency (NCA) show.

The incidents involved 1,510 people who went missing, meaning some went missing repeatedly.

Despite the high numbers, Northamptonshire Police had some of the lowest rates of missing incidents per 10,000 people across England, coming 32nd out of 42 police forces.

Joe Apps, head of the UK Missing Persons Unit at the NCA, said: "There are a vast array of reasons for people to go missing, and it can be prompted by almost anything in someone’s life.

"This ranges from a personal decision to escape family or financial worries, to being a victim of county lines gangs or child sexual abuse and exploitation."

Mr Apps said 80 per cent of missing people are found in less than 24 hours, with children more likely to return or be found by families or carers.

In Northamptonshire, 57.9 per cent of missing people incidents in 2018-19 involved children.

Mr Apps said: "In contrast, adults are less likely to return on their own and more are found by the police than by their community. Elderly people living with dementia who go missing present the highest risk.

"We continue to work with partners in law enforcement and the voluntary sector to identify risk, safeguard vulnerable people and support families and friends."

The charity Missing People are calling for a better multi-agency response to support those who go missing.

Jane Hunter, senior research and impact manager at Missing People, said: "Behind these figures are individual people, who may be experiencing mental health crisis, problems where they live, exploitation, domestic violence, or a range of other issues. And we must not forget those left behind, desperately searching for answers of their loved one’s whereabouts.

"And while figures show that most people will thankfully return within a week, going missing should be seen as a warning sign, that something is seriously wrong and that support must be available upon their return."

The Home Office is overseeing the development of a National Register of Missing Persons (NRMP), which Ms Hunter said will hopefully improve consistency in recording repeat episodes and inform safeguarding.

She added: "We would like to see more proactive multi-agency working to support people who might be at risk of going missing, particularly for those who have been missing before.

"Organisations working with individuals should work to understand why that person went missing and any steps that can be taken to support them with what's happening in their life.

"We also know that many of those who go missing will be experiencing mental health issues, and that it can be challenging to access mental health support due to high thresholds and long waiting lists."

Missing People charity is available to offer support to those thinking about going missing.

A Home Office spokesman said: "We are working with policing colleagues to deliver a National Register of Missing Persons as part of the new Law Enforcement Data Service. The register will significantly improve our understanding of the scale and nature of missing incidents across the UK.

"It is vital that the police have access to fast and accurate data and intelligence that can be shared between forces."

The NRMP will allow all forces in the UK to record missing and associated found incidents and access data about missing people from other force areas, it should be finished in 2023.

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