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Why are black people twice more likely to go missing? Part 2

DEARLY DEPARTED: 20% of missing adults who are found do not return home

ACCORDING TO Missing People, the charity that helps both the disappeared and their families, the vast majority of lost individuals are swiftly found, or return of their own volition, especially teenagers.

Dr. Shalev-Greene believes that social media has played a key role in this. According to the academic, it has become an effective tool to locate missing people who do not receive attention from traditional mainstream media outlets.

She said:

“Editors monitor Facebook and Twitter and if individuals receive a lot of attention, they will eventually write appropriate stories.

“But, it is important that information is released in conjunction with the police, to prevent suspects being tipped off or eluding prosecution in the future.”

A more worrying occurrence, however, is when children and teenagers remain missing for extended periods of time. On the Missing Kids UK website, for example, there are a number of young black people who have not been traced for more than 10 years, such as Zhara lbdi, who went missing in Northern Ireland in 2005 aged 14 and Helen Oworo, who was 16 when she went missing from Littlehampton in 2006.


STILL MISSING: (Left to right) Friday Igbinoba and Helen Oworo

According to Missing People, of the 16,000 to 20,000 people who annually go missing for more than a year in Britain, the vast majority are adults. A study by the charity found that only 20 per cent of missing adults traced decided to return to the place they had left, and 41 per cent of those located were not prepared to contact those who were looking for them because of unresolved issues.

According to Shalev- Greene, one factor that needs to be addressed in understanding why so many people in black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities go missing and one that is not often talked about is mental health, especially dementia. The NCA say that up to 80 per cent of people who go missing have mental health problems.

She said:

“People with depression might feel that there’s no hope, and just need time away. They might be what we call functionally depressed.

“The image is that they’re fine, but they’re crumbling inside and at some point, theyjust can’t hide it any more, so they’ll just leave.

Shalev-Greene added:

“Also, if family members fail to approach medical authorities to arrange suitable medication and supervision, the result could be older individuals with dementia going missing periodically and being endangered. It is a challenge that must be addressed.”


MISSING: (Left to right) Vera Osagiede and Augustin St. Helen

Where to access expert advice:

If you have been affected by this issue, here are some organisations you can contact:

Missing People

The charity supports missing people and their families to explore their options and where possible, to reconnect. You can contact them for free, 24/7 and in confidence, by calling or texting 116 000 or by emailing 116000@ missingpeople.org.uk.

Missing Kids UK

Missing Kids UK is a website run by the Missing Children Team, part of Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) command within the National Crime Agency. If you believe that a child is missing, you can contact them on 116 000.

UK Missing Persons Bureau

This is the point of contact for all UK missing person and unidentified body cases. They are a hub for the exchange of information and expertise on the subject of missing persons. If someone is missing, they advise you should phone or visit your local police station. Many police forces in England and Wales now use the 101 non-emergency number. The number for your local force can be found in the phone book or by clicking here.

To read part 1 of this story, click here.

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