Saturday, March 12, 2005

National Missing Persons Helpline

Having been involved with the Homeless Community for quite a while now, on an almost daily basis I would receive calls from people with Missing relatives or friends. Many of these calls are in desperation as they do not who to call and there is a possibility that their loved ones are living rough on the streets. With this in mind Street Seen, as part of an ongoing campaign, profiles an organisation that exists to assist those with missing people dear to them.

It’s very hard to be precise about the amount of people who go missing every year. Opinions differ on who counts as a missing person. The police do not look for people except in cases of vulnerability or crime. According to Home Office estimates, about 210 000 people are reported missing in the UK each year. The vast majority return safe and sound within 72 hours - but thousands do not; the distress experienced during this time is when families need help most. State agencies such as the police are sometimes unable to help, leaving the National Missing Persons Helpline (NMPH) to fill the gap.

NMPH was established as a charity in 1992 to advise and support missing people and those who are left behind. It gives priority to the vulnerable - the very young, the old, the sick and distressed. NMPH has the most detailed 'missing' database in the U.K, registering both vulnerable and non-vulnerable missing people. The charity also offers its services to organisations outside the family circle; the police, social workers, hospitals, care homes, foster homes and international organisations. NMPH is like most charities dependent entirely on voluntary donations.

NMPH receives thousands of missing person’s reports every year, but on a positive note the charity helps to resolve 70% of cases it works on. Its helplines handle more than 150 000 calls per year.

Other specialised agencies, official and voluntary, deal with various aspects of the missing person’s phenomenon, but none has an overview of the problem as a whole. There is no central or single source of general or statistical information on a growing social problem which causes much distress to the absent and those they leave behind alike.

More is known about those under 18 who go missing than any other group. According to the Children's Society each year in the U.K. 100, 000 young people run away or are forced to leave home to escape problems. Of this figure 77,000 children under 16 are running away for the first time. The research suggests that around a quarter of runaways run before the age of 11. One in fourteen children who run away, first run before the age of 8.
According to research carried out for NMPH, girls are over twice as likely to be reported missing as boys between the ages of 13 and 17. The Children's Society report of 1999 states that 45% of children in care run away overnight compared to 9.5% of those living with their own families. Almost one third of children who spend time in care run away three times or more.
One disturbing indication of what happens to these young missing people is that children who have been away for a week or more have a 44% chance of being hurt while on the run and 67% of those who stayed with someone they had just met had been hurt.
Missing young people face many dangers: around 40% of young runways sleep rough while they are missing and almost one third stay with a stranger. Some young runaways experience physical or sexual assault while missing.

Some young people disappear as a result of abduction. Most incidents of abduction involve the child being taken by one of their parents due to a custody dispute. According to Reunite (The National Council for Abducted Children) the cases of parental abduction reported to them have increased by 79% since 1995. Abduction by a stranger or non-family member is rare. Whilst the police record several hundred offences of abduction and child abduction every year covering a range of scenarios (including parental abduction) there are very few offences which involve the abduction and murder of a child by a stranger.

Very little general information exists on missing adults. NMPH commissioned research in this area. The findings of the research, undertaken by the University of York, culminated in the "Lost from View" report 2002.
Males in their late 20s are more likely to disappear than any other group of adults.
Among those aged 60 years or over, the most common reason for going missing is dementia, or mental health problems.
28% of the samples of adults go missing sleep rough, as do two fifths of young runaways.
Adults are more likely to go missing if they are going through a crisis or a difficult transition, or if they are vulnerable due to chronic difficulties


Reasons for going missing vary widely. A large body of empirical information gives some clear pointers. Reasons include:
Family conflict / relationship problems
Illness or accident
General anxiety or stress
Stress, depression or other mental illness
Amnesia, senile dementia or Alzheimer's disease
Alcohol, drug or solvent misuse
Abduction (most feared but least likely)

It should not be forgotten that people over 18 are at liberty to choose to go away and break off contact. NMPH therefore guarantees confidentiality to seekers and found alike; its commitment to confidentiality has won the respect of people around the country. It recognises the right to stay out of touch and can forward an 'alive and well' message to put relatives' minds at rest without revealing the sender's whereabouts. The Helpline believes every individual has the right to be in a safe environment and will not coerce anyone into returning against his or her will.


The charity operates three nation-wide Freefone telephone Helplines manned 24 hours a day, and provides a variety of other services relating to missing persons. NMPH charges no fee because many families of missing people cannot afford one. But donations are encouraged because the Helpline now needs £4.1 million a year to provide services to the ever-increasing number of families who turn to them for help and support.


The core Helpline of the charity, offering support, help and advice to families and friends of missing persons. Staff and volunteers also try to reunite families by searching for missing people via its network of contacts and sources throughout the UK, Europe and beyond.


Message Home is a 24 hour, national Freefone Helpline for those who have left home to send a message to their family or carer, to seek confidential advice, and if necessary to be helped to a place of safety, which can reduce a caller's time of vulnerability.

RUNAWAY HELPLINE - 0808 800 70 70

Another national Freefone confidential Helpline offering support and advice to young runaways. Callers can leave a message for us to pass on to a relative, social worker or carer and can request help and advice. Often young people who have run away feel that they cannot make direct contact with their family or carer, even to phone someone to say that they are alive and safe. The Runaway helpline can act as a non- judgmental intermediary.

The NMPH offers a very valuable service and Street Seen will endeavour to support their work in any manner possible. We will regularly run a missing persons section and can only hope that this will in some way alleviate the anguish that so many people are enduring. There are a number of ways that you can help too. Donations are very important for this service to survive:

How to donate to NMPH

1. Secure Online donations

2. By Phone
Call the donations line on 0208 392 4592

3. By Post
Send a donation to:

Roebuck House,
284 Upper Richmond Road West,
East Sheen,
London SW14 7JE


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Blogger amygriffin0627 said...

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