Two videos released aiming to reduce incidents of young people being reported missing (11 Dec 2018)

1a _1Two videos highlighting the impact of staying out late without telling family members where you are going have been distributed to young people across West Yorkshire in a bid to reduce incidents of young people being reported missing from home.

The videos have been produced by West Yorkshire Police and Leeds Safeguarding Children Partnership and feature case studies based on real-life missing person cases. They include the viewpoints of the young person reported missing, family members and a police officer.

In both the scenarios portrayed, the child has failed to return home from school and has been socialising with friends without the knowledge of their parents. When they have not been able to contact their child, the parents have phoned the police and reported them missing. In both scenarios, the police trace the missing teenagers and return them home, with both reflecting that they didn't consider themselves a missing person or realise the level of concern they had caused.

The campaign has already reached over 16,000 young people across West Yorkshire so far, with the social media advertising running until the end of December.

Detective Superintendent Jon Morgan said: "As a police force we deal with thousands of reports of missing children each year. While some might have made the conscious decision to 'run away', in a lot of cases, the young person involved has every intention of returning home in due course and will not have realised the impact of their actions.

"Our officers see first-hand the devastating effect that a child going missing can have on their parents or guardians. They will often be imagining the worst case scenarios and fearing that their child has come to harm.

"We also see the other side of the story though. Our officers see the surprise, embarrassment and distress experienced by young people when they realise that their parents have reported them as a missing person and the police have been looking for them.

"By publishing these videos and circulating them on social media, we hope to make young people consider the impact of their actions and ultimately ensure that they let people know where they are going and get support if they are wanting to run away from their problems."

Phil Coneron, Manager of the Leeds Safeguarding Children Partnership, said: "We want to encourage young people to access help when things are difficult at home. However hard things are, running away is not the answer. The best thing to do is get help from trusted adults or professionals."

The videos - which were funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner's Safer Communities Fund - form part of the wider Running Away campaign which was launched by West Yorkshire Police and the five local Safeguarding Children Boards last year. Both the videos and the campaign artwork have been produced after discussions with young people about what would have the most impact for someone of their age.

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson said: "By capitalising upon the Safer Communities Fund, which I created using the proceeds of crime funding in a positive way, we can put some of these ill-gotten gains back into educating our younger generations.

"It will essentially help them to recognise the dangers associated with running away and prevent them from jeopardising their own personal safety and causing real anguish among families.

"It will allow young people to see the impact that such scenarios can have upon their families and those tasked with locating them within the police and other emergency services.

"Our hope is that these videos primarily remove young people from the kinds of situations that place them in harm's way, but also direct those who are most vulnerable to the right support networks, to receive the right help and support.

"In doing so, it will also act to reduce any unnecessary pressure upon police resources and free officers to tackle other areas of greatest risk and demand."

The aim of the campaign is to encourage young people to seek help and support as an alternative to going missing. If a young person feels unable to talk to their parent or guardian, they are urged to talk to another trusted adult, whether that is another family member, family friend or teacher. There are also a number of helplines that offer free and confidential support and advice.

For more information about the campaign and useful contacts for both young people and their parents, please visit: www.westyorkshire.police.uk/runningaway

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019