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Changes in the way police deal with missing people following Sussex's lead
7:48am Wednesday 20th March 2013 in News
Police forces across the country will change the way that they deal with missing people following failures in cases such as the Rochdale child sex ring.
Plans announced today will stop officers getting called out to around a third of missing people cases.
The aim is to free up officers' time and to improve the way forces deal with children who repeatedly go missing from care, and might fall prey to sexual abuse.
Pilots of the new system have been carried out by Sussex Police for three years.
Chief Constable Pat Geenty, the lead for missing people for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), said: "Whenever we get a call and someone is reported missing, we would normally dispatch a police officer, irrespective of the circumstances of the case. So you see that's a huge demand on police resources."
Police deal with around 327,000 reports of missing people per year, the equivalent of around 900 per day, two thirds of which involve children.
Under the plans, call handlers will class missing persons cases as either "absent", when a person simply does not arrive where they are expected to be, or "missing", where there is a specific reason for concern.
This can be that the disappearance is out of character or that they may be at risk of harm.
Mr Geenty said police are sometimes used as a "collection service" for children who go missing from care homes.
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