Comment: Understanding why people go missing

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Police appeals to help trace a missing person used to be incredibly rare.

Today, they come so thick and fast, we’re in danger of becoming blase.

But at the heart of every single appeal lies a person who may be vulnerable, in danger, or reaching out for help.

We must never lose sight of that.

Two statistics stopped us in our tracks this week.

Last month, Fife Police were dealing with 79 incidents invovling reports of missing children.

And in one weekend alone they had to deal with 39 reports.

Break that down into man hours of police time – it is significant.

The overarching aim in each instance is to make sure the people are safe and well.

A generation ago, anyone going in to a police station to report someone missing would be told to come back in 24 hours.

We now live in a world of constant communication where people and their smart phones are rarely separated.

So, when someone goes off the radar, even for a few hours, their details and picture are quickly circulated.

Whether they are missing or simply looking for time out, time away, time with friends is neither here nor there.

They become a case, and that impacts on a raft of services and agencies.

And understanding the complex, and many, reasons why people go missing – or simply why they don’t want to be on the radar of family networks, let alone police and agencies –is also key to making a difference,and to ensuring they don’t then start a cycle of repeat behaviour.

The work done over the past six months by police and agencies has been key to making an impact on those worrying figures.

Ensuring none of us become blase over appeals to help find someone is one way of playing our part.