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The NCA recently published their most recent missing data report, publishing data from England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for the year 2016-17.

The new NCA stats show an increase in the number of times people were reported missing from 2015-16 to 2016-17, with 186,000 people going missing in 365,000 incidents across the United Kingdom (up from 180,000 people in 340,000 incidents). It is difficult to know with certainty whether this increase is due to people actually going missing more often, or whether police recording and reporting systems have changed or improved. Research has also shown that the numbers recorded in police data are likely to be a significant underestimate of the true number of missing people.

There has been a notable increase in the number of missing children incidents, however, it is unclear whether this is due to more children than before going missing more than one, or a similar number of children going missing but a greater number of times.

However, we should remember that behind each of these numbers is an individual. When someone goes missing it is nearly always a sign that something is wrong. The high number of people who are reported missing more than once shows that it is crucial to have a framework in place to prevent people from being vulnerable to harm by going missing again and again. This should include one to one support for children and adults who have returned from being missing as well as excellent inter-agency work between professionals.

There are a wide range of reasons why adults and children go missing, with links to mental health, homelessness, domestic abuse and problems at home. For children, going missing is increasingly being seen as an early warning sign of child sexual and criminal exploitation, including through county lines.”