Running Away From Home Campaign
Thursday, May 25, 2017
Last year in West Yorkshire just over 9,500 people were involved in over 20,000 missing occurrences, with over 60% of reports involving children or young people.*
With a total of 5,263 adults and 4,172 children involved in missing events between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2017 (75 had no age recorded) the statistics show that someone was reported missing once every 55 minutes that year.
A child was reported missing approximately once every 2 hours 6 minutes.
West Yorkshire Police are releasing the statistics alongside key partners the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson, the NSPCC, the Missing People charity and all five Local Safeguarding Children Boards to mark International Missing Children's Day on 25 May.
The nine organisations are joining together with the aim of encouraging young people to seek help and support as an alternative to going missing.
Assistant Chief Constable Russ Foster, of West Yorkshire Police, said:
“Young people in particular can run away for a variety of reasons - there is no simple reason for why it happens.
“Reasons can include but are not limited to children being at risk of child sexual exploitation, mental health issues and issues around their sexuality. Whilst the reasons may be varied the impact rarely is.
“The impact of the child or young person running away can be terrible. The statistics show that we as a Force deal with a lot of missing children and young people and we see the impact it has, not only upon the individual who goes missing, but their friends and loved ones too.
“That is why we are working with the NSPCC, Runaway Helpline, the Police and Crime Commissioner and all five local Safeguarding Children Boards to support the International Missing Children's Day - to show children and young people thinking of running away that help is available, regardless of the problems they are facing.”
Artwork has been produced with the aim of getting the message across that there is an alternative to running away. It has been produced after discussions with young people about what would have the most impact for someone of their age.
Paid for advertising on social media has also been taken out in a bid to spread the word as far and as wide as possible.
For more information visit www.westyorkshire.police.uk/runningaway and look out for the hashtag #runningaway on social media.
Mr Burns-Williamson held an event in December with partners on how to tackle the issue and share best practice as West Yorkshire Police receive nearly 5,000 calls about missing people each year.
“We need to identify how we can work better together to tackle the root causes which are often complex, with the aim of preventing people from going missing in the first place,” he added.
“The police are put under great pressure to trace missing people and awareness raising such as this on International Missing Children's Day is crucial to let children and young people know there is support out there for them.
“Missing people is now a key priority within the Police and Crime Plan and we are working with West Yorkshire Police and partners to share information and best practice to do our best to keep our children and young people safe.”
An NSPCC spokesperson said:
“We know from calls to our Childline service that children go missing for many reasons, including bullying, abuse or being unhappy at home. Whatever a young person is going through, it’s important they remember help and support is always available.
“On International Missing Children’s Day 2017 we would urge anyone who is considering running away to stop and talk to someone, be that a trusted adult or trained counsellors at the runaway helpline. You might feel like there's nowhere else to turn, but running away is never the answer.
“This campaign is vital to reach out to those who feel that their only option is to run away, to assure them there is always another choice.
Adults who are concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC helpline in confidence, 24 hours a day seven days a week, on 0800 808 5000. Children can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or at www.childline.org.uk”
A spokesperson for the Runaway Helpline, said:
“We understand that almost everybody who runs away from home is experiencing a challenge of some kind in their life. Unfortunately, being away from home can make a person vulnerable and put them in even more danger, particularly if they are young. Runaway Helpline has been supporting young people for many years and is run by the UK charity Missing People. We offer a 24 hour helpline which is free and confidential for anybody who is away from home, thinking about running away, or who has returned from being away. We’re here to listen and offer support, but not judge or tell anybody what to do.”
For help and assistance, call or text 116 000 or email [email protected] any time, day or night. You can also visit www.runawayhelpline.org.uk for 1-2-1 chat daily between 2:30pm – 9pm.
Runaway Helpline can help you get a message back to your parents to let them know that you are safe – but only if you want them to.
All contact is confidential and they can’t find out where you are unless you choose to tell them.
You can text or phone them even if you have no credit left on your mobile phone.
Childline advisors are trained to help with any problems you are having at home that are making you think about going missing. Calls to ChildLine are completely confidential and free, even if you call from a mobile phone. Call 0800 1111.