19,000 missing people reported to police in Wales last year

A child on a swing Image copyright Getty Images

Police in Wales handled an average of 50 missing people reports a day last year, new figures have shown.

Almost 60% of those reports were about children, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Overall in England and Wales, 342,785 missing person calls were received - a rise of more than 20% on the previous year.

The NCA said the increase was down to "better data recording" and "improved practice around safeguarding".

Gwent Police had the highest rate of missing children reports out of all forces in England and Wales. A total of 3,559 incidents were recorded in 2015-16, a 21% rise on the previous year.

Det Supt Leanne Brustad from Gwent Police said: "Due to the improvements in the way we record these instances and the wider decision to combine missing people data with that of 'absent' data, the figures issued this year are not a like-for-like comparison on the previous year.

"Having said all that, we are not experiencing any significant trends that differ from 2014/15."

Dyfed-Powys Police saw a 55% increase in missing child incidents, up from 1,197 in 2014-15 to 1,857 in 2015-16.

Ch Supt Aled Davies said: "We acknowledge the rise in missing child incidents in our force area and will continue to work with our partner agencies when appropriate to tackle the complex underlying causes which can lead to a child going missing."

Across England and Wales, the figures revealed that people returned safely in 96% of incidents, and in just 0.4% of cases individuals were found dead.

Image copyright Gwent Police

The total calls about missing and absent people

  • South Wales Police: 7,066
  • Gwent Police: 4,978
  • North Wales: 3,852
  • Dyfed-Powys: 3,336

The NCA said the latest report on missing people was the "most accurate to date".

Joe Apps, head of the NCA UK Missing Person Bureau, said: "We are working continuously with police forces to improve recording practices and computer systems."

Police guidance on the management, recording and investigation of missing persons grades them either low risk, medium risk or high risk.

There is also a fourth category, absent, which is applied to cases where there is no "apparent risk".

Mr Apps added that new police guidance, due to be published this autumn, should lead to further improvements.

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