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  4. 1.37 Reducing demand from U18 missing persons

1.37 Reducing demand from U18 missing persons

Academic team: Dr Paul Walley, Emma Bilsdon (Senior Practitioner Fellow, Hertfordshire Constabulary)
Policing partners: Hertfordshire Constabulary
Status: Complete


The aim of this project is to protect children from the long-term harms of going missing and prevent repeat demand on public agencies. The team explore the investigation of missing persons under the age of 18 from a systems design perspective and to recommend system re-design or process changes in such a way that sustainably reduces demand without compromising quality of services provided. 

There are three primary research questions:

1.  What action can prevent children, who are at most risk, from going missing?

2.  What activities can agencies undertake when a child goes missing that are most likely to ensure the return of a child to a safe environment?

3  What follow up activities to a missing episode in a child is most likely to prevent repeat missing episodes from occurring?

In this work the team study the patterns of behaviours of children who repeatedly go missing, the current multi-agency arrangements and activities undertaken after a missing episode and to identify any potential improvements to existing processes.

The first phase was a scoping literature review and practitioner evidence base. This is followed by a mixed method study of missing incidents for children that occurred between January 2019 and December 2022 in Hertfordshire Constabulary. The work focuses on reducing repeat demand from children who go missing most frequently, looking at the underlying reasons for missing incidents, their vulnerabilities and how this demand may be reduced without compromising the safety of the children.



Title Outputs type Lead academic Year
Redesigning the response to reports of missing young persons. Can demand be prevented? Final report Bilsdon, E 2023
Can a multi-agency redesign of the response to reports of missing young persons prevent repeat demand? A scoping review of the evidence Scoping review Bilsdon, E 2023




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