The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, are holding an inquiry into the current response of professionals and agencies, including the police, local authorities, the NHS and the voluntary sector, to adults who go missing from home, care or hospital and are vulnerable because of mental health issues.
The aim of the inquiry is to better understand what currently happens when a vulnerable adult goes missing and what happens when they return, particularly what additional support or intervention would help to ensure their safety.
There are over 100,000 incidents of adults going missing reported to the UK police every year. The vast majority of missing people will be found safely, however, adults who go missing are often vulnerable and may experience serious harm while away, and those who do return may still be at risk in their home environment. Up to a third of adults who go missing will do so on more than one occasion.
In many ways missing can be understood as a symptom of wider issues. More needs to be done to understand the reasons why adults go missing, however, existing research shows that 60% of adults who disappear have mental health issues, with some estimates even higher at 80%. The risks for this group are very real – some will take their own lives, others will self-harm, be abused, face exploitation or struggle to make safe decisions.
There is currently very inconsistent support for adults who are found or return from being missing. While the police endeavour to carry out a check to ensure that these adults returning home are safe and well, very few adults will have an opportunity to talk or access vital further support.
The APPG are calling for evidence to be submitted by professionals and people with lived experience to ensure there is a better understand of the current picture and what can be improved. The questions included focus around the following key areas:
Intervention and Immediate Response
The call for evidence, including information about how to submit a response can be found here.