A recent report by the charity Missing People has raised concerns about the disproportionately high number of black and Asian children who are missing for extended periods compared to white children.
The charity found that a lower percentage of missing incidents related to black and Asian people were resolved by the person being found by the police.
The report also highlighted that those who have gone missing from black or Asian communities are less likely to be recorded as being at risk due to their mental health or at risk of child sexual exploitation.
The report’s findings, based on freedom of information requests to local authorities and police forces, showed that 20% of incidents related to black children were for longer than 48 hours, compared with 14% of incidents related to Asian children and 13% of incidents related to white children.
For cases lasting longer than a week, 4% of incidents related to black children compared with 3% of incidents relating to Asian children and 1% of incidents relating to white children.
The report also found that black adults were the most likely to be missing for more than 48 hours and more than seven days.
The charity called for a national, multiagency commitment to understanding the experiences of people from minority ethnic groups who go missing or have a loved one go missing, and to ending any discrimination in response to those missing reports.
The report has prompted Deputy Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson, the NPCC lead for missing people, to state that the findings are being taken “incredibly seriously,” and that efforts will be made to work with the charity and others to consider how best to collectively address concerns around bias and investigator training.
Similarly, Chief Constable Gavin Stephens, senior responsible officer for the Police Race Action Plan, pledged to continue to work to increase trust and confidence from minority ethnic communities.
The charity has partnered with the consultancy Listen Up to explore the experiences of black missing children.
Among the recommendations in the report, Missing People calls for data on ethnicity and the missing to be collected and analysed nationally on an annual basis and for all police forces and local authorities to review their data to identify disproportionality and potential discriminatory practice in their area.