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  • Writer's pictureClare Jerrom

Better understanding needed in racial disproportionality of missing persons

There needs to be a better understanding of racial disproportionality in missing person investigations, the National Police Chiefs Council has urged.


Research has shown that there is racial disproportionality in the youth justice system but it has also emerged that in relation to police investigations into missing persons, people from minority ethnic groups were missing for longer, less likely to be found by the police, and less likely to be recorded as being at risk, than white people, according to Missing People’s February 2023 report The Ethnicity of Missing People.


The National Crime Agency also reported that Black people accounted for 14 per cent of missing people in England and Wales between 2019 and 2020. This is four times the relative population of Black people living in England and Wales during this period.


The NPCC and the Police Race Action Plan are working alongside Missing People and Missing Black People to take the first step in national action to consult Black communities on improving the policing response to reports of missing people who are Black.


National Police Chiefs' Council lead for Missing Persons, Deputy Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson said: “As the NPCC Lead for Missing Persons, I am pleased to advise several encouraging activities are progressing, in respect of better understanding disproportionality in missing investigations. This action relating to missing people seeks to improve the police response and effectiveness in supporting missing people from Black communities which aligns to the overall operational task of successfully resolving missing persons investigations for all members of the public.”


The NPCC is seeking submissions and experiences from Black people who have been missing themselves, as well as families of Black missing people. The Council is urging Black people to share their experiences with police officers who have strategic or tactical responsibility for missing people investigations and operational missing people specialists. The first in a series of internal national policing workshops will take place on September 27 to hear directly from those who are willing to share their experiences. Policing will reflect directly after the event and the findings will feed into a national programme of Police Race Action Plan activity throughout 2023 and 2024.


Chief Inspector Alan Rhees-Cooper, NPCC Missing Persons National Coordinator said: “When families share their experiences, policing may have a different understanding of what occurred. However, this session is not a forum for defensiveness or a time to challenge the personal experiences of these families.


"This is a time to gain an insight into their personal experiences and perceptions so that we can reflect on how to improve our future responses so that their personal experiences are more positive, there is a greater understanding of the role and responsibilities of the police, and expectations are met or managed. After this workshop, there will be a follow up meeting for police representatives to reflect on this session and to share views on the way forward," he added.


Missing People is facilitating the feedback with Listen Up. Those interested in contributing should reach out to either josie.allan@missingpeople.org.uk or info@missingblackpeople.com. The online listening event will take place on 27 September.

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