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How the police strive to track down missing and vulnerable

IT IS a sad fact that in this day and age we hear all too often about vulnerable people who have gone missing. But what we don’t know is the level of tough policing work that goes on behind the scenes in trying to find those that maybe just don’t want to be found. Sussex Police’s Missing Person and Child Sexual Exploitation team have so far received 44 reports of people who have gone AWOL from Chichester in the first five months of the year.. A total of 66 people went missing from the Arun district during this time, and across West Sussex the number reached 492 reports. Luckily all of Chichester’s missing cases have been closed by hard working officers, but man at the helm Inspector Roy Hodder said it is not always such positive news. “It’s a real challenge dealing with those that go missing and understanding that some people choose to go missing of their own accord. “It’s their lawful right to do so but it’s also about understanding the risks of each case. “Regardless of it being a young person or an adult, we can offer them support. “Ours is a real investigative role as well as supportive. It brings together all elements of policing.” When a person goes missing, the first step for the police is to take as much information as possible from those closest to them. The police need to understand the circumstances behind it and whether or not that person might pose a risk to themselves or others. “If they go missing for the purpose of killing themselves then we deem them high risk”, he explained. “That is treated differently from someone going missing for a few days and no one knowing where they are.” Once information has been gathered, police visit the person’s home and look for clues about where they may have gone. “Each case is bespoke so it’s about understanding that person and their movements and the places that they might go. “If there has been a recent bereavement, people may go to the place where that person was buried. Often we can get information from a variety of sources.’ Sergeant Matthew Moores, who is also on the Chichester team added: “A lot of the time people who come from mental health establishments will be suffering from depression or psychosis so we are thinking of whether they might harm themselves or another person.” The team works with other agencies across the county including mental health services and social services. Inspector Hodder added: “Also it is the case that some people don’t want to be found. “Two weeks ago we found a man who had been missing for four years. He was deemed as a very low risk case. “He’s an adult and he has a right to go missing. “It’s important to understand our role as police which is to see whether or not they have been subjected to crime. “Other times people are really grateful that we have located them. We are that beacon of hope showing that someone does care for them. “And sometimes people don’t want to be located because they have gone off to commit suicide or cause harm. But we hope that we can make a difference and make it in time for them. “It’s an amazing role. Every day we can make a difference to people’s lives positively.” As the name suggests, the Missing Person and Child Sexual Exploitation team also investigate young people who are at the risk of being sexually exploited. “When young people go missing they are at a great risk of sexual exploitation,” Inspector Hodder added. “Part of what we do is to understand the risks of young people going missing and to prevent them from coming to harm.” There are 13 people working within the team, all holding a variety of different roles. “The team work in real harmony together. There’s a big knowledge within the team,” Inspector Hodder said.

Posted in Crime, News.