More than 4,500 children and adults went missing in Hampshire in just 12 months

AROUND 4,500 children and adults went missing in a single year in Hampshire, figures show..

By Ben Fishwick and Steve Deeks
Wednesday, 2nd September 2020, 6:55 pm

Statistics released by the National Crime Agency show a continuing rise in the number of calls Hampshire police receive about missing people.

This is while actual incidents of people disappearing has reduced in Hampshire during 2018/19.

Many who go missing do so repeatedly..

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From left, Charlie Budd, James Stone and Paul Carter

But behind each figure is a family or carers in anguish – waiting to hear what has happened.

Charlie Budd, a 25-year-old man from Portsmouth, went missing last Wednesday leaving his loved ones issuing desperate pleas to find him following the ‘out of character’ disappearance’.

While Charlie’s sudden disappearance remains in the early stages, the dad-of-two from Wymering is in the category most associated with those who go missing - men.

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Loved ones issue desperate plea to find man
Charlie Budd, who has been missing since last Wednesday. Picture: Georgia Stabb

In Charlie’s case, loved ones have done everything they can to find him after he ‘vanished’ with no clues left.

The groundworker’s former partner Georgia Stabb said his disappearance was all the more puzzling because he has not been in touch to speak with the children.

No one has heard from Charlie - whose phone has been turned off - despite the appeal to find him being shared numerous times on social media and featuring in The News.

Georgia, 32, said: ‘No-one has seen or heard from Charlie since last Wednesday. It’s out of character as he would normally be in touch over the twins.

‘He lives with a man who said he last saw him on Wednesday morning. The bed has not been slept in since then. He only has the clothes on his back and his bank card.

‘He’s literally vanished. We’ve been sharing it on social media but no one has heard anything. All his family and friends think it is weird.

‘His mum said he was a bit depressed a couple of weeks ago but he was perfectly fine when I saw him last Monday.’

Amy Budd, Charlie’s sister, posted on Facebook: ‘Charlie has still not been found. If anyone has seen my little brother Charlie Budd please could you let one of us know, just need to know he’s safe and ok so we can stop worrying.’

Family members posted on social media to say his bank card was used in London, but they do not know if he used it.

Latest missing figures for Hampshire

The police figures show 14,513 calls were made in 2018/19 - with a year-on-year increase since 2013/14 when just 8,516 calls were received.

Despite this, the number of actual incidents involving adults vanishing dropped by 285 to 2,952.

For children there were 1,409 fewer missing incidents than in the year before, with 6,257.

Before this drop there was an upwards trend from 2014/15 onwards.

Overall, though, the number of adult individuals going missing dropped by 87 to 2,348 while the number of children dropped down to 2,137 - a drop of 421.

The age group that went missing the most was children aged 12-17 last year with 5,818 incidents reported.

Unidentified remains

Last year saw a small increase in cases tragically ending in death. There were 19 deaths in Hampshire, including one child.

The force also last year had 19 cases where a body or remains have been found, but no-one has been identified.

A Hampshire police spokeswoman said: ‘Unlike crime types, trends within missing people are difficult to pinpoint as there are many variables as to why a person would go missing.

‘All of these factors are used to identify whether a missing person is low, medium, or high risk, and they vary from case to case.

‘We therefore cannot say why there would be fewer missing people one year than the year before, as multiple factors impact on each individual case.’

Dr Karen Shalev-Greene is director of the Centre for the Study of Missing Persons at the University of Portsmouth.

Asked about the latest figures, said: ‘Going missing is generally a symptom of something not being right in a child’s life or adult’s life.

‘If people are happy and everything is fine they don’t tend to go missing unless they’ve been abducted.’

With children, they can vanish so they can feel wanted, she said research has found. One man who frequently went missing as a teenager told the academic he would often be pleased that three police cars were looking for him.

Generally children go missing as a result of neglect, abuse or exploitation, though.

‘Pandora’s box of social vulnerability’

Dr Shalev-Greene revealed understanding why people go missing is a complex issue.

She said: ‘”Missing” is a Pandora’s box of social vulnerability - it’s whether or not you’re willing to open it and enter it.

‘It’s a very daunting task when you do as it’s like an octopus, it’s reaching into everything.

‘To actually deal with it, you need a good relationship with other agencies and training. UK policing is reactive - it will deal with things the best it can, totally under resourced.’

She added: ‘They’ve got so many cases - they deal with one, move to the next one and hope to god they haven’t got it wrong. I really do feel for them.’

Police responding to missing people in Britain are among the best in the world, she added. ‘(UK policing) gets so many cases they’ve just built up expertise and also have the attitude that every life matters, every child matters, so they respond.’

In Britain nearly half of all missing children incidents are down to their lifestyle, the NCA report says, including factors of: their relationships, drugs or alcohol, school, finances or employment.

The next biggest reason is unaccompanied migrants, making up 19 per cent of all cases.

Hampshire did not provide a breakdown of reasons to the NCA.

How to reduce people going missing?

Children’s homes tend to call police at 12.01am if a child was supposed to be at home by midnight, Dr Shalev-Greene said.

This instant reporting can create tension between police and the care system.

If the two have agreed protocols about who will be called and when, and how much the carer is supposed to search for the child, then calls to police could reduce.

During previous research Dr Shalev-Greene found some people had been missing for a “negative period of time” - reported missing after they had returned home.

Branded as missing

When a public appeal is made this can lead to long-term disastrous effects. Dating and job hunts can be thwarted when a former missing child’s name is found in a story still published online.

Dr Shalev-Greene wants to see legislation to end the naming of missing children, but does acknowledge this can help find them and is only used in a handful of cases.

She said: ‘If nobody knows you’re missing but the police and you come back and they say “we’re just looking after you, you’re not in trouble”, fine.

‘But there’s other issues when the name of a person is out there - they can’t reclaim it.’

The charity Missing People also lists three men who have been long-term missing from the local area.

Doran Malaj was 17 when he vanished in Portsmouth on September 12 last year.

Paul Carter was last seen on April 21, 2007, then aged 22.

James Stone, 67 at the time of his disappearance, was last seen on March 1, 1988.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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