Exploitation and Missing

Exploitation and Missing

It is estimated that there are 320,000 reported incidents of missing persons are made in the United Kingdom each year and almost 190,000 of these are children.*

The link between Child Exploitation (CE) and children and young people going missing is inextricable since going missing can be both a cause and a consequence of being sexually exploited.

Children who are looked after by the Local Authority are at high risk of being reported missing. 1 in 10 of these children are reported missing compared to 1 in 200 children who are not looked after by the Local Authority. Research suggests that 7 out of 10 children are not reported to the police when missing.

At present the Police definitions are as follows:

Missing – “Anyone whose whereabouts cannot be established will be considered as missing until located, and their wellbeing or otherwise confirmed.”

 Absent – “A person not at a place where they are expected or required to be.”

Typical examples of ‘absent’ may include:

  • Failing to return on time.
  • Staying at a known location, such as with a friend.

Thus, absent is to be used in cases where there are grounds to believe that the absence involves no apparent risk, or the level of risk is a tolerable one not meeting the threshold for a police-led missing person investigation. In such circumstances there will remain an expectation that reasonable enquiries will continue to be conducted by the reporting agency, after the report to the police. Should the circumstances subsequently develop to a determination that the person is in fact ‘missing’ an expedient police response will ensue. Hence, the police response is likely to differ between cases of ‘missing’ and of ‘absent’.

*National Crime Agency 2021/22