Around four people go missing in Kirklees EVERY day.
They vanish, seemingly without a trace, leaving their friends and family panicking about what could have happened.
And when they do, it’s the job of Kirklees Det Insp Stephanie Wiseman and a specialist Missing Person Unit to trace their whereabouts and bring about their safe return.
“The majority of people who go missing are found safe and well”, says Insp Wiseman, who is based at Dewsbury Police station.
“Sadly there are some people who, for whatever reason, don’t want to be found or in some cases take actions to end their own lives.
But the first step to any missing person enquiry is to take basic details such as the date/time/location the person was last seen. Their full details, name, date of birth and description of what they were wearing.
And, unlike the myths created by TV crime dramas, missing people can be reported to police within the first 24 hours.
Insp Wiseman said: “The first few hours of our involvement is critical. One of the most important tasks is risk assessment which is either high, medium or low. It isn’t an exact science but it can give us an early guide as to why someone has disappeared.
“During this assessment we take into consideration who is reporting the person missing. Also important is everything from their mental health and domestic situation and all are taken into consideration.
“We then look at areas they may have links with and liaise with other forces if necessary. We may put alerts out with Border Agency and airports and transport areas.
“An intial stage of a high risk ‘mispr’ is really intensive and we use whatever resources necessary to find them. We have the helicopter, dogs unit, and may co-ordinate a search of a specific area.
“In this age of the 24-hour media and social media we may liaise with our press office to distribute the picture to media which can be crucial in getting the message quickly to a large number.”
Insp Wiseman added: “Each case is different. Recently we had an 85-year-old lady with dementia who went missing. She was staying with a friend and just left without warning. She was found safe and well and had made her own way home.”
But the work of Insp Wiseman and the team fluctuates seasonally.
She explained: “We do see a peak in young people going missing in the school holidays. It is often easier for them to go undetected when absence from school would typically raise concern with authorities.
“Young people we usually find quite quickly. We contact anyone they have regular contact with, usually friends and look at their social patterns.
“Teenagers can like to push the boundaries and think they are adults and do what they like without telling anyone. This can make it particularly hard for relatives and carers who find themselves on the receiving end of a missing loved one.
“We may receive contact from them saying they are OK but don’t want to be found. Then we continue to monitor the situation.”
But one of the busiest ‘peaks’ for the Kirklees Missing Person’s team or Mispr, as its known in the force, was in December 2012 in Kirklees when five adults were reported missing in a short period of time and remained untraceable despite extensive enquires.
Insp Wiseman added: “It was a particularly busy period. We had five ‘long-term’ missing adults and we were using every resource available.
“When someone is missing for a long period of time and we have exhausted every possible line of enquiry the case is logged and details are stored on the Missing Person Register and the situation is reviewed every six months to see if there are any active enquires to progress the case.”
To support all police forces Missing Person’s appeals, independent charity Missing People specialises in and is dedicated to bringing missing children and adults back together with their families.
Click here to support Missing People or for more information.
View West Yorkshire Missing People appeals here - including a Huddersfield man who has not been seen for two years.