The States of Jersey Police and the Jersey Youth Service have collaborated on a new joint initiative to reduce the risk to missing persons in Jersey, particularly young people.
In 2016 there were 522 instances of missing people, almost 80% of which were under 18s. Many of these cases are the same young people who repeatedly go missing. So far this year there have been 305 reports of people missing.
Over the past three months the Jersey Youth Service have been consulting with young people, parents, police and Children's Services about what their service should look like and deliver. They have embarked on training in the UK and have worked with several national organisations in the process, bringing back many ideas about how to develop services here in Jersey.
New leaflets for young people have been commissioned that offer support and advice, ‘Thinking of Running Away’ is aimed directly at those young people that either chose to go missing or are thinking about it. ‘What to do if Your Child Goes missing’ is a parents leaflet, printed in both English and Portuguese and there are also further handouts that police officers will give to young people on their return home, informing them about what will happen next.
Previously ‘return to home’ interviews have always been carried out by police officers, but thanks to this joint initiative, these conversations with young people will now be undertaken by the Jersey Youth Service.
Principal Youth Officer, Mark Capern said:
“Our primary concern focuses on the risk that these vulnerable young people expose themselves to when they go missing. The potential to become involved in crime is enhanced and this can include being involved with drugs, child sexual exploitation and assault. We hope that the focused work with young people will help to change their behaviour, reducing their risk of coming to any harm.
“I want our young people to be safe and have to know that they have somewhere they can turn to when they need support and advice.
“This new area of work we are developing will target vulnerable young people and help keep them safe by building positive relationships, treating them as individuals and working with them so they have places to go, opportunities to grow, have a voice on issues affecting them.
“I would like to thank the young people and parents that have supported our consultation processes and the support our Police and Children's Service colleagues have given us. We feel confident that what we have in place will support our young people.”
Acting Chief Inspector Mark Hafey said:
“This new joint initiative with the Jersey Youth Service is very much welcomed. In recent years multi-agency working in Jersey has seen significant development in respect of the support that is available for young people.
“History does tell us that those young people who are frequently missing are at a greater risk of becoming involved in sexual exploitation or other areas of crime and it is hoped that this improved way of managing and working with missing young persons will reduce further missing person episodes.
“This new way of working will also ensure that relationships are developed with young people which will ensure they have the opportunity to talk to someone that they trust and who is in a position to listen to their concerns and act upon them.”
Responding to reports of missing persons can result in considerable demand on police resources. On average the cost to the police of each missing person occurrence is approximately £1300, meaning that in 2016 and 2017 we spent £680k and £400k respectively on just that element of our everyday working practices.
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