Australian Institute of Criminology

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New statistics to drive national missing persons agendas

Media release

24 November 2016

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) will release new research today (Thursday 24 November) that will provide law enforcement with updated information and trend data relating to missing persons in Australia over the past eight years.

The Statistical Bulletin will update the national recorded number of missing persons reports received each year, which has risen from approximately 30,000 to 38,000 per year, and provide a realistic picture of the challenges faced by police working to reunite missing people with their loved ones.

It will also provide statistics on the number of people reported missing on multiple occasions, how long those reported missing remain absent, and how many are later located.

Police will use this new information to better inform the development and implementation of preventative strategies, awareness campaigns and support packages, allowing them to focus their assistance to the vulnerable members of the community.

The research was commissioned last year by the AFP’s National Missing Person’s Coordination Centre (NMPCC), and undertaken by the AIC. It is an interim report, with a larger research report – Missing Persons in Australia – due to be released in April 2017.

The report found that more than 98 per cent of the 305,000 missing persons reports documented between 1 January 2008 and 31 December 2015 were located, and thankfully, an overwhelming majority were found alive and well.

AFP acting Assistant Commissioner Chris Sheehan, National Manager Crime Operations, said this report is also a crucial reminder that the public should follow their instincts when concerned about their loved one’s welfare.

“This research has found that approximately 60 percent of those who were reported missing were located within the first 48 hours,” Commander Sheehan said.

“If you have concerns for a person’s safety or welfare, I urge you to contact your local police immediately. You do not have to wait 24 hours.”

AIC acting Director, Chris Dawson, said the AIC is proud to support the AFP’s NMPCC through their research into missing persons.

“The AIC is Australia’s national research and knowledge centre on crime and justice and provides evidence-based research to inform policy and practice.” said, Mr Dawson.

The release of this research coincides with the AFP-chaired bi-annual Police Consultative Group on Missing Persons forum, beginning in Canberra today. Missing Persons Units from all States and Territories will meet to share information and further drive national coordination across Australia to improve the management and response to missing persons.

Media enquiries:
AFP National Media: (02) 6131 6333
AIC Media: (02) 6268 7343