Today it is international missing children day and Humberside Police spoke to DI Paul Welton to find out more about what happens when we receive a report of a missing child.
While some may be found in a matter of hours, others require comprehensive and detailed plans to trace their last steps. This can involve a number of departments and teams including a dedicated missing person team, local neighbourhood police teams, response police officers and the marine unit as well as being supported by NHS mental health teams and Social Services.
Detective Inspector (DI) Paul Welton from Humberside Police’s Protecting Vulnerable People Unit said: “Every call we receive reporting a missing person is taken extremely seriously. We take every case on its own merits and assess the level of risk for each missing person.
“People go missing for a number of different reasons, most however are running from something or running to something.
“Whatever the reason, we will do everything we can to find them and then offer support and assistance to help prevent them from going missing again.
“when it comes to missing children young girls are more likely to go missing than boys, with girls aged 15-17-years-old being more likely to go missing.
“A lot of children that go missing may have problems at home or in their care situation, which includes conflicts with parents, carers or other family members.”
Last summer saw over 150 children go missing in our force area, some on more than one occasion which actually resulted in over 350 reports to us.
DI Welton added: “Young people are particularly vulnerable due to their age and can easily fall in with the wrong people. If we receive a report that a young person has gone missing we do our utmost to find them as soon as possible.
“Children who go missing or run away are at increased risk of being harmed, which is exacerbated by the possibility of sleeping rough or committing crime to survive.
“Our priority is to locate and protect them, ensure their safety and to prevent them from becoming involved in crime.
“Those who look to involve children in criminal activity we seek to find and arrest; it’s not the children who we will look to criminalise, we want to find those exploiting them and bring them to justice.”
“We’ve found that young people need to have a real purpose in life and if things are not going well at home or school, they can lose their way and struggle to cope with things.
“Once we have found a missing child, we speak to them about why they went missing and try and find out what they were doing while they were away from home.
“Last year we also introduced a new initiative whereby each child reported missing is invited to a meeting where they can talk to people, including social services and the police, about why they went missing and we try and find a way help them cope with their problems.
“We look to find a focus for them and get them into training or skills-based education to help them get through whatever rough patch they are in. This is giving us some really good results and a number of frequently reported missing children are starting to turn their lives around with our help.”
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