A MISSING persons charity chief fears lockdown could lead to rates of missing people and suicide “never seen before” over the festive period.

Missing People chief executive Jo Youle warned this could come as a result of the financial and societal impacts of the coronavirus crisis.

She said: “Christmas is always a challenging time of year, and especially so in 2020 when many of us have spent the year apart from loved ones and are continuing to do so.

“Mental health and money problems are a key driver for people to go missing. This year the financial and societal impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic are likely to lead to a significant increase in the numbers of people going missing, and feeling suicidal, perhaps at a scale not seen before.

“This is likely to be most acutely felt in disadvantaged communities and those who are already socially excluded.”

The charity also said that many missing adults who are found struggle to return to their life, with up to a third going missing again. It is calling for a new government strategy “to ensure missing and returned people get the right response, from the right professional.”