25 August 2015

Consultation on new police guidelines for missing people

The College of Policing has released draft police guidance on missing persons for consultation, with a new focus on social media.

​The consultation, which will run until 9 October, will lead to official guidance for police officers – known as Authorised Professional Practice (APP) – to support them in missing persons investigations.

While the proposed work is largely a consolidation of existing guidance, the College has added a new section on the use of social media in investigations. There is also an added focus on exploring the missing individual’s lifestyle to yield lines of enquiry.

The APP emphasises the importance of fully investigating the reasons behind an individual going missing even after the person is found, to ensure a full pattern is recorded in the case of repeat absences.

It reiterates that safeguarding should be a priority for vulnerable people and that police should work closely with other agencies for a response to a missing person report to be as effective as possible.

The guidance includes several quick-reference guides for police officers and staff dealing with each step of a missing person investigation, including call handlers, first response officers, supervisors, investigators and missing person coordinators.

College of Policing’s Policing Standards Manager, Sharon Stratton, said: "Missing person reports often concern extremely vulnerable individuals and, while establishing their whereabouts is rightfully the immediate priority, full investigation of the circumstances behind them going missing is vital.

“The consultation guidance emphasises using social media as an investigative tool, as well as taking into account the individual’s lifestyle. This will help forces both in tracking down the missing person and in building a clear picture of their vulnerabilities and needs.

“The College, as the professional body for police, recognises the importance of effective multi-agency working to safeguard and protect vulnerable individuals.”

For more information, visit https://www.app.college.police.uk/consultation/missing-persons-consultation/

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