Friday, 11 September 2015

The importance of the Missing Persons Strategy

There are many thousands of people reported as missing each year. Also, taking in to account that there will be many unreported cases, this should be acknowledged as a significant issue for Glasgow City Council. A considerable amount of staff time and resources is involved in responding to missing persons incidents.  I was the seconder for a motion debated and agreed by Glasgow City Council on 10th September, as follows:-

"Council notes that more than 30,000 missing person cases are handled by Police Scotland on an annual basis. Children and young people make up approximately two thirds of the missing reports and although the vast majority of people who go missing return, or are found quickly, many vulnerable children and adults suffer harm and exploitation whilst missing and some never return.

Council welcomes the work being undertaken by Scottish Government with a range of agencies to develop a National MIssing Persons Strategy. The strategy can provide a focus for all partners including local authorities to work together to deliver preventative approaches, and to stregthen the response to cases, whilst providing support and protection for missing people.

Council agrees to submit a consultation response on the National Missing Persons Strategy and for this response to be considered by the relevant committee prior to the consultation's closing date of 30th November 2015."

This motion aims to raise the profile of the scale of 'missing persons' in Scotland and the partnership approach being developed by the strategy to address the issues for those who do go missing

The new strategy can be welcomed by the Council as it will offer a focus for bringing together good practice to all aspects of handling missing persons incidents. There are a range of organisations involved – including council services such as social care, care homes for the elderly, children's homes, and schools. Responses to incidents are also made by Police Scotland, housing associations, or a range of third sector organisations. Many incidents go unreported to the police, but may be known to other agencies.

Of particular concern is that the data provided in the strategy includes estimates that 40% of people with dementia will go missing. The needs of people with dementia and their carers should be a high priority due to their need for protection from harm. Whilst walking home within the city centre, I was involved in supporting a person with dementia who had gone missing. Thanks to assistance from a local shopkeeper, the person was reunited with their family within a few hours of being reported missing.

The Council should contribute views on strategy and proposed actions by making a response to the consultation. It is crucial that council services who have experience of missing persons incidents are able to share their knowledge and expertise. This is critical in tackling the harm related to people going missing, and promoting cooperation and collaboration among agencies. 

Also, I think that the Council has to consider the need for a local missing persons strategy linked to the new national plan. The consultation should be considered by relevant forums within existing structures such as the Community Planning Partnership and Community Safety initiatives to ensure that the response brings together resources to protect vulnerable people who are already priorities in the local Single Outcome Agreement.

Useful link:

Scottish Missing Persons Strategy Consultation

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