People disappear in Yorkshire every 15 minutes as police statistics reveal children twice as likely to be reported missing
Of the 35,489 people reported missing in the year ending March 2019, some 22,779 were children.
While the vast majority of missing person cases result in the person being found straight away, the data shows that as of March last year, there are at least 255 people still missing in the region whose fate is unknown.
Some 74 of those were children at the time of going missing.
West Yorkshire Police had the highest number of missing persons reports in 2018/19, with 18,620 reports of which 60 per cent (11,134) were children.
The force had the fourth highest rate of missing people per 10,000 people, after Greater Manchester, Cleveland and Dorset. It also has 14 people still at large, of which four were children at time of going missing.
Analysis of the national data showed that mental health is the leading reason for people aged between 18 and 59 going missing, while for over 60s it was dementia. Family and romantic relationships were the most common reason for children to go missing.
Another sadly common reason is people being victims of exploitation from criminal gangs.
Nationally, boys and men were also more likely to go missing than girls and women.
The Missing People charity meanwhile is calling for multi-agency safeguarding for those who turn up after being reported missing to prevent repeat occurrences.
Jane Hunter, Senior Research and Impact Manager at Missing People 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.
"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."
Detective Chief Inspector Dave Cowley, of West Yorkshire Police, said cases where a person has disappeared often leave lasting trauma on both that person and their loved ones.
“That is why we take reports of missing people extremely seriously – especially when someone missing is thought to be “high risk,” said Det Chief Insp Cowley.
“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.”