Missing persons team expands following successful first year
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The number of officers in a team dedicated to finding missing people has risen following a successful first year.
Staffordshire Police announced it was piloting a new team last year, The Missing Person Investigation Team, to enhance the force’s response to missing people so those reported missing are found more quickly and efficiently.
The 13-strong unit, which comprises of police officers, detectives and one supervisor, serve the whole county and work with operational police officers to assist with low and medium risk missing person investigations. The team was initially set up with a team of 10, but this has now risen to 13 and the unit has been made a permanent part of the force.
In its first year, the number of missing people has fallen 18 per cent – which, according to research conducted by University of Portsmouth, is an efficiency saving of £1.4 million.
Before the team existed, between December 2017 and July 2018, the total number of missing people was 1,735. In the same period 2018/19, since the team has launched, this has dropped to 1,456. There has also been a reduction in the frequency of missing episodes from those people who repeatedly go missing.
In the same time period, the total time that people are missing has fallen by almost 19,000 hours – dropping from 79,392 to 60,572.
Chief Superintendent Jennie Mattinson, head of investigations at Staffordshire Police, said: “The Missing Persons Investigation Team is an invaluable asset to the force – helping us to find missing people as quickly as possible, reducing the risk of them coming to harm.
“The team helps frontline officers by taking on desk-based investigations such as liaising with families of the missing person, speaking to witnesses, screening CCTV and obtaining information about mobile phones.
“Before the team was in place, frontline officers had the responsibility to complete all these enquiries. This new unit has meant that these officers are able to spend more time going to the best locations to physically search for missing people, resulting in people being found quicker than before.
“The unit also continuously work with partners to help minimise the number of missing person incidents by intervening quickly and safeguarding those who need it as soon as possible.
“The team, which has now become permanent due to its success, provides a better service for both missing people and their families.”
Staffordshire Commissioner for Police, Fire and Rescue and Crime, Matthew Ellis said: “The work being done by Staffordshire Police to find missing persons is hugely important and often affects entire families.
“The extra investment in policing I asked people to make earlier this year through local tax is strengthening many aspects of policing and also means the specialist Missing Persons Investigation Team can now be made permanent. It will help and support hundreds of individuals and families each year.”