Scottish Government has awarded Missing People with over £59,000 funding to increase the help available to missing people in Scotland.
There are around 100 reports of missing people in Scotland every day, with many of these relating to a person who has been missing on previous occasions.
It is essential to ensure that missing people and their families receive high quality and effective support, which is why the recently published National Missing Persons Framework for Scotland aims to improve joint working between the agencies involved in safeguarding missing people. As well as setting out the roles and responsibilities for different agencies, the Framework highlights the need to improve the quality of the discussions which take place with someone who has been missing after they have been returned.
Missing People, in partnership with Shelter Scotland, Barnardo’s Scotland, and the University of Glasgow, will deliver free, country-wide training early next year to highlight the central role that these discussions play in preventing people from falling into patterns of frequently going missing, and improve the quality of the discussions that take place.
Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs at the Scottish Government, Annabelle Ewing, said “The Scottish Government is very pleased to support this partnership to develop training to assist people returning from period of being missing. The training will deliver key commitments in the National Missing Persons Framework for Scotland, published earlier this year, by helping to prevent people repeatedly going missing through appropriate intervention and support.”
Becca Padbury, Development and Partnerships Manager at the charity Missing People, said: “By delivering this training for free, the charity is committed to supporting more vulnerable children and adults who go missing across Scotland. We encourage anyone from local authorities, police forces, health and educational service and the third sector to attend these training sessions.”
The one-day, free training workshops aim to equip professionals with a specific communication toolkit to manage return discussions and put positive interventions in place, and there will be opportunity to build on existing communication and inter-personal skills to effectively work with missing people.
Ruth Robin, Operations Manager at Shelter Scotland, which has been running a support service for young runaways in Tayside for the last four years, said: “It is vital that all those involved in helping adults and young people get their lives back together recognise the value of a safe and secure home, and that they have the skills and up-to-date knowledge to deliver the best service and achieve the best outcomes. We know from our experience that for some, going missing is an intentional act which is a key indication that something isn't right. We work hard to understand why, with the aim of reducing risk and preventing future episodes. Giving people the platform to discuss and make informed decisions about their situation and what they want to do next are vital to positive outcomes.”
Daljeet Dagon, National Programme Manager for CSE at Barnardo’s Scotland, who have been providing services in relation to child sexual exploitation and missing for over 20 years, said “We know that it is vital to make links between young people going missing and the increased risk of sexual exploitation. It is therefore vital that professionals engaged in discussions with children, young people and adults after they have returned and are confident about asking about possible involvement in sexual exploitation and abuse to ascertain what risks they have been exposed to whilst missing, so that the right supports can be put in place for them."
Prof Hester Parr, from the University of Glasgow’s School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, said: “I am sure this training will provide professionals with help they need to respond effectively to returned missing people. The University of Glasgow is delighted to be part of a research-led, people-centred training innovation, which will make sure it is well targeted to meet the needs of Scotland’s most vulnerable people. Scotland will benefit from this innovative training, offered in partnership with sector leaders in supporting missing people. The University of Glasgow is committed to making sure that the training is research-led, evidence-based and well targeted to help meet the needs of busy professionals who support society's most vulnerable people.”
Becca added: “Often, multiple and complex issues will lead to a person going missing, and these issues may continue long after that person returns home. Talking to that person and providing them with a safe, confidential and non-judgemental space to discuss their experience can help prevent them from going missing again.”