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Missing people found more quickly thanks to new scheme

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Missing people are being found more quickly under a pilot scheme taking place in one of England’s biggest cities.

West Midlands Police set up its ‘Locate team’ in April in order to take the workload of missing person’s inquiries away from response officers.

The team, which has been working across four areas in Birmingham, said the new way of working had resulted in more missing people being located each week and on average being found four hours sooner.

A key priority of the unit is to look at the reasons why those who frequently go missing do so and to help break this cycle.

Detective Chief Inspector Dean Young said: "We have a small number of people who are frequently missing. Each case has its own set of circumstances but issues such as sexual exploitation, drug misuse or involvement in a cycle of crime can sometimes come into play.

"The team delves deeper into each case, not satisfied with simply locating the individual, to try and change the pattern of behaviour and offer the necessary support of all relevant agencies to prevent them from needing our help again in the future."

In 2015, HMIC’s PEEL effectiveness report said that improvements were needed in the force’s understanding of risks faced by vulnerable people, particularly missing children.

It found a number of instances where children classed as absent should have been recorded as missing and that risk levels for missing children were sometimes incorrectly assessed at a lower grade.

Following the formal end of the pilot on July 29, the force is analysing the findings with a view to rolling out the scheme as part of its WMP 2020 programme.

Last month, national lead for missing people Chief Constable Mike Veale admitted that the service does not have “the capability or capacity” to deal with so many missing persons episodes.

“Going missing is often a symptom of deeper challenges in a young person’s life,” he said.

“By the time they disappear, many opportunities to intervene early and address the underlying causes have already been missed.

“This is not something the police can solve on their own. We need all agencies - including health and social services - to come together and focus on providing consistent, coordinated and timely support to those in need.”