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Repeat missing child reports in Wales

Hutchings, Emma; Browne, Kevin D.; Chou, Shihning; Wade, Kerry

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Emma Hutchings

Professor of Forensic Psychology and Child Health

Kerry Wade


Background: There were approximately 306,000 reports of missing persons in the UK from 2012 to 2013, 64% involved children. Repeat missing incidents account for approximately 38% of reported missing incidences. Within their research Biehal et al. (2003) identified that 70% of missing children had voluntarily left their home and the majority of these were considered to have 'run away'. Research suggests that there is heavy demand on public services in responding to children that are regularly reported missing.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore data recorded in respect of children reported missing as a result of running away. The main objective of this study was to develop a set of risk factors to predict repeat missing incidences using a logistic regression method.

Participants and setting: This study explored the characteristics of 523 children who were reported missing to Gwent (Wales) Police as a result of running away.

Methods: Using data collected by the Gwent Missing Children's Team in Wales, over a one-year period, this study compared two groups of children: 275 (53%) who were reported missing once ('low risk') and 248 (47%) who were reported more than once ('high risk').

Results: Results indicated that five significant risk factors identified by logistic regression could distinguish outcome in 73% of cases. The five risk factors were; looked after children, substance use, suspected sexual exploitation, known to Youth Offending Services and a history of abuse/neglect.

Conclusions: These risk factors could potentially be used in Gwent to guide intervention strategies, with those children identified as 'high risk' of repeat missing incidents requiring more comprehensive intervention and support.


Hutchings, E., Browne, K. D., Chou, S., & Wade, K. (2019). Repeat missing child reports in Wales. Child Abuse and Neglect, 88, 107-117.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 6, 2018
Online Publication Date Nov 21, 2018
Publication Date Feb 1, 2019
Deposit Date Nov 24, 2018
Publicly Available Date Nov 22, 2020
Journal Child Abuse & Neglect
Print ISSN 0145-2134
Electronic ISSN 1873-7757
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 88
Pages 107-117
Keywords Missing child reports; Looked after children; Runaways; Child maltretament; abuse and neglect
Public URL
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