Tayside and Central Scotland

Police Scotland probe 22,000 'missing' cases a year

Multi-coloured cut-outs of stick men Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption About 99% of missing people are traced safe and well

Almost 22,000 missing people investigations were carried out by police in Scotland last year.

More than half of cases related to people that had gone missing at least once before, with one person reported missing 170 times.

The figures were revealed during a two-day conference on missing people, being held at Abertay University in Dundee.

Police Scotland said the figures showed that more support was needed for vulnerable people who go missing.

More than three quarters of missing people are located within 24 hours, according to the figures. However, about 1% are never traced.

'Usually voluntary'

Police Scotland said it had recorded about 40,000 missing person "incidents" in the past year, with men accounting for 58% of missing people, while 53% were aged between 13 and 16.

Speaking at the conference, Assistant Chief Constable Andy Cowie, said: "Since April 2016, we have been compiling data on missing persons and the first full year of information provides us with a very clear picture of who goes missing and the locations from which they go missing.

"It is also illustrative of the non-crime related demand on Scotland's police service.

"People go missing for a broad range of reasons and usually voluntarily. But we also know that the majority of people who go missing are vulnerable."

Missing people

Figures for Scotland from April 2016


Traced safe and well


Repeat missing person

  • 54% Males

  • 53% Aged between 13 and 16

  • 76% Returned within 24 hours

Getty Images

Mr Cowie said the issue showed the kind of pressure that was being placed on police resources.

He added: "We recognise we simply cannot do that alone. We need our partners and communities to work with us to protect those most at risk of going missing and prevent missing person episodes wherever possible."

The conference features speakers and delegates from across the world.

Dr Penny Woolnough, from Abertay University who works as an adviser to the police on missing people, said the event was the first of its kind to be hosted in Scotland.

She added: "It is the only international conference which sees multi-disciplinary academics, practitioners and policy makers come together to explore and discuss the full range of issues associated with the challenges faced by those who are missed, those who are charged with responding to missing and those who are affected by missing in its broadest sense."

"It reiterates Scotland's commitment to leading development of policy and practice in this area."

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