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Quickly locating an adult who has gone missing is the top priority for both friends and family as well as Staffordshire Police.
Also used by forces in other areas, a new, web-based method of reporting missing adults - who are not in any immediate danger or likely to come to immediate harm - is hoped to collect better detail so we can find people quicker and keep them safe quicker. For a missing person who it is believed their life is at risk, always still dial 999.
The form is only to be used by members of the public, with professional bodies who provide care for a person still required to ring the force for safeguarding purposes. It is very straightforward and asks a few questions to make sure reporting them missing online is the best way of reporting. It also asks if they have any serious mental or physical health issues.
By creating this form it is hoped people have the time to check key details with other friends and family members and provide a more complete picture of the person they are concerned about and their last known movements. This will then give the Missing Persons Investigation Team (MPIT) the best possible start in their search, saving time and ensuring there is less chance of officers attending incorrect locations.
The web form can be found on the Staffordshire Police Home webpage under the ‘Report’ section. To report somebody as a missing person – who is over 18, not in immediate danger or likely to come to immediate harm and who has not got serious mental or physical health issues - a drop-down menu appears from which you select ‘Missing person’ and the form can then be filled in.
Helpful tips are provided throughout on what information officers require, and it takes about 25-to-30 minutes to complete.
MPIT Team Leader Sharon Coates said: “It’s a really efficient way of getting the correct information over to us, which people will find easy to navigate. It also gives you time to find the correct information that is pertinent to a missing person enquiry to allow us to act to locate that missing person.”
And Sharon was also keen to dispel a “bit of an urban myth” when it comes to reporting missing people.
“You don’t have to wait 24 hours to report a missing person,” she continued. “For years we have been saying this, and we don’t know where that myth has come from. It’s not wasting police time to report somebody missing. We are here to assist and protect you and your loved ones.”
Sharon also gave some advice over when the right time to report a friend or loved one missing was.
“We judge each circumstance by its own individual merit,” she continued. “However, if you are concerned about that person, if something is really out of character and it bothers you and worries you, then that’s the point to report them missing.”
The form also filters out cases that aren’t a police matter. For example, if a person’s whereabouts is known but a parent, friend or family member wants them to come home, or maybe a relative has lost contact with a family member over time, then these are not missing person cases.
“We are not a locate and trace service,” Sharon added. “That’s not a service we provide and it’s important for that to be known. There are other agencies out there who can do that for you and we signpost to these via this form.”
And as well as a new missing person report you can also give updated information on an investigation already taking place, or report a possible sighting of a missing person too.
Lots of advice is also available, for example if you want to report a person who is missing abroad but is a British national.
“We’ve already had one case where we did get some new information through about somebody who was already missing which gave us a new line of enquiry,” Sharon continued.
To report a person as missing visit: www.staffordshire.police.uk/ro/report/mp/v2/report-missing-person/
To report a possible sighting of a missing person visit: https://www.staffordshire.police.uk/ro/report/mp/v2/report-sighting-of-missing-person-form/
Photo: PCs Mike Brown and Kim Connelly with the new missing person's form