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Following the publication of National Crime Agency statistics on missing, Missing People has just published new figures relating to the number of people who are reported missing every year.

  • Someone is reported missing every 90 seconds in the UK
  • 180,000 people are reported missing every year
  • There are 340,000 missing incidents every year
  • Children are more likely to be reported missing than adults: 1 in 200 children goes missing each year; 1 in every 500 adults goes missing each year

Susannah Drury, Director of Policy, Research and People, said: “We’re pleased to have carried out this important work using NCA statistics, figures provided by Police Scotland, and an FOI response from the Police Service of Northern Ireland. For the first time we’re able to bring together a UK-wide picture of missing. Most of the people who are reported missing are vulnerable or at risk and many are reported missing multiple times, making them even more vulnerable.

There are a wide range of reasons why adults and children go missing, with varying levels of intentionality, and often more than one cause. Here at Missing People we’re dedicated to enhancing our understanding of these different factors, which we’ll do through further research and campaigning.”

Previous research has shown that some of the most common reasons for adults to be missing are:

  • Diagnosed or undiagnosed mental health issues: up to 8 in 10 missing adults
  • Relationship breakdown: 3 in 10 missing adults
  • Dementia: around 1 in 10 adult missing incidents (4 in every 10 people with dementia will go missing at some point, often unintentionally)

These issues, as well as others, are often reflected in conversations with adults who go missing who contact the Missing People helpline. The most common issues raised are:

  • Mental health issues including risks of suicide or self-harm
  • Homelessness
  • Problems at home including relationship breakdown
  • Abuse or domestic violence

There are a range of reasons why children and young people go missing, with previous research showing that some common reasons are:

  • Conflict, abuse and neglect in the home: more than half of missing children have experienced this and 1 in 5 children felt forced to leave because of it
  • Sexual exploitation: 7 in 10 young people who have been sexually exploited have also been reported missing
  • Mental health issues: at least 1 in 10 missing children

The most common issues raised in conversations with the children contacting the helpline are:

  • Problems at home
  • Abuse, domestic violence or child sexual exploitation
  • Mental health issues including risks of suicide or self-harm
  • Living in care

Research about the reasons why people go missing can be found in Lost from View; Missing Persons: Understanding, planning, responding; Geographies of Missing People; Still Running 2.

Research shows that the numbers recorded in police data are likely to be a significant underestimate. There are limitations to the NCA data, including differing recording practices and incomplete data, and some people will not be reported missing to the police at all. Research has shown that as many as 7 in 10 children are not reported to the police when they go missing. Little is known about adults who are not reported missing.

Information on the number of calls to police suggests there has been an increase in missing incidents. NCA statistics show that from 2012-13 to 2015-16 the number of missing related calls in England, Wales & Scotland increased from 306,118 to 377,710. However, changes in recording practices by the police and analysis approach by the NCA means that definitive trends are difficult to identify.

For more information please visit our ‘Key Information’ page or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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