West Yorkshire Police receive missing persons reports every half an hour, statistics reveal
At least one person is reported missing every half an hour in West Yorkshire, latest figures show.
Statistics issued by the National Crime Agency (NCA) have revealed that 18,620 missing persons cases were reported to West Yorkshire Police in the year ending March 2019, of which 60 per cent (11,134) were children.
It comes as one of the force's leading detectives says the impact of people going missing can be "traumatic" both on them and their loved ones, while a charity calls for more to be done to help those with mental health issues at risk of disappearing.
Detective Chief Inspector Dave Cowley said: “That is why we take reports of missing people extremely seriously – especially when someone missing is thought to be “high risk."
The Missing People charity is now leading calls for more safeguarding for people who are found after being reported missing to prevent repeat occurrences.
Jane Hunter, from the charity, said: “Whilst police rightly take the lead on investigations into disappearances, we’d like to see the return of a missing person as a moment that activates a multi-agency response, to identify which support measures should be put in place to safeguard and prevent further missing episodes.”
Mental health issues was the most common reason for people aged 18-59 disappearing, according to the NCA, while for children it was relationship problems and for elderly people it was dementia.
Det Chief Insp Cowley added: “When someone is assessed as being “high risk” (the other categories are low and medium risk) a considerable policing operation is launched to find them as quickly as possible.
“This includes officers physically searching for them and, when appropriate, using social media as a tool to share important messages to help find the person quickly and safely.
“We will also, where, appropriate, appoint a Family Liaison Officer to work with and support the family in what are very difficult circumstances."
Despite the vast majority of missing people being found within hours of the call to police, some sadly are never found, with 14 people in West Yorkshire whose fate remains unknown, including four who were children at the time of disappearance.
Among these are Leeds 40-year-old Svitlana Kransnoselska, who was last seen at her home in Micklefield in April 2017, and Joseph Shann, 35, also from Leeds, who went missing in December 2010.
Young mother Sarah Hardcastle, from Leeds has been missing for 18 years. She was last seen at a hostel where she had been staying on June 9 2002. The 28-year-old left her young son behind and has not been heard from since.
Det Chief Insp Cowley added: “We do of course have cases where missing people cannot be found and these long time cases are regularly reviewed with new lines of enquiry sought either through investigative or through media appeals.
“Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank people who engage with us on social media to share our appeals to find missing people and to encourage people who don’t currently follow our social media channels to do so and share our appeals whenever possible.”
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