20 Mar 2013

UK police will no longer look for every 'missing' person

10:00 pm on 20 March 2013

British police say they will start picking and choosing which missing persons reports get attention, in a bid to focus only on cases where people are most at risk.

About 900 reports of missing people are made in Britain each day.

From next month, police will only probe those where the disappearance is out of character or the person is thought to be at risk.

People who are simply not where they are expected will be labelled "absent" and only the rest - where there is a known reason for concern - will be investigated as "missing persons".

Police complain they are sometimes used as a collection service to round up children who have absconded from homes run by professional carers, and it's a huge drain on resources.

They say they deal with about 327,000 reports of missing people every year, with two-thirds of them involving children.

Pilot schemes trialling the new approach in Greater Manchester, West Midlands and Staffordshire show officers focused more on higher-risk incidents and saved thousands of officer hours over a three-month period.