There is very little more heartbreaking than a loved one disappearing one day with no trace, especially when they’re still a child. 

However, it is more common than you might think with someone being reported missing in the UK every 90 seconds, and there could be more that the police do not even know about. 

This means 320,000 missing incidents occur every year in Britain, with the majority (190,000) of these being children under the age of 16. 

When friends or family are faced with a loved one going missing, the first thing they ask themselves is, “Why?”. 

Vulnerable people

Sadly, lots of those who are reported missing are considered to be vulnerable people. 

One-tenth of looked after children disappear, in comparison to one in 200 youngsters. What’s more, looked after children who disappear are typically reported missing as many as six times.

Other people who might be vulnerable include those who are at risk of abuse or neglect, or have a disability or need special care. 

Those with dementia are also more likely to go missing, as a result of getting confused or memory loss. 

Mental health problems

One of the main reasons why adults and children go missing is because they are suffering from mental health difficulties. 

They might be unhappy in their current situation and become depressed or anxious, whether that’s due to a relationship breakdown, emotional or physical abuse, family problems, bullying, or social pressures. 

Running away might seem like a good way to escape their difficulties, as they can leave bad influences behind and start afresh. However, being on their own with no money and nowhere to live generally worsens their mental health in the long run. 


More and more people might be tempted to run away to escape their financial problems if they have gotten themselves into serious levels of debt recently, as a result of the cost-of-living crisis. 

Rising food and energy bills has meant many people who struggled to make ends meet were left in a dire situation, and lots have resorted to using loan sharks or taking out credit as a way to pay for everyday costs. 

However, this only results in debts spiralling out of control, as they are unable to reimburse their loans, let alone the interest. 

Some people see no way out and think their only hope of starting again is by disappearing completely. 


Although it is rare, some people who go missing do so because they have been abducted. 

According to official figures, there were 7,420 kidnapping offences in England and Wales in 2022/23. However, the number could be considerably higher, as many missing persons cases are never resolved.

Parents whose children disappear typically suspect it to be an abduction, particularly if there were no obvious problems at home. Unfortunately, some of these kids are never found by the police to really determine what led to their disappearance. 

It is well-known that the first 72 hours after someone goes missing is crucial, as the longer time goes on, the harder it is to find them. 

Therefore, people whose loved ones have been missing for several weeks, months, or even years, will feel absolutely desperate to find clues about their disappearance, hiring a private investigator to establish whether it was likely to be an abduction case or they simply ran away. 

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