Missing persons from Asian and Black communities are less likely to be found by police than white people, according to a report by the U.K.-based charity Missing People.
The research found that Asian and Black children are more likely to be missing for longer, less likely to be found and less likely to be recorded as being at risk as compared to white children.
According to the report, which is based on data collected from police forces and local authorities across the U.K., Black and Asian children are more likely than white children to be missing for over a week.
There is also a lower proportion of missing incidents related to Black and Asian people resolved by the police.
Only 16% of cases related to Black children and 19% related to Asian children are solved as compared with 23% of incidents related to white children. As for adults, only 31% of incidents related to Black people and 35% related to Asian people cases are resolved as compared with 39% of incidents related to white adults.
Black and Asian communities are also less likely to be recorded as being at risk by the police due to their mental health or being at risk of exploitation.
While the research suggests bias and a disparity of response by authorities, the charity hopes that more efforts will be made to understand what is driving the “concerning” disparities.
Jo Youle, the CEO of Missing People, called for urgent change and for police forces to take action regarding the existing disparities.
As an independent charity representing lived experience, we are calling for urgent change. Individual police forces and local authorities must review their local data and take action to understand why any disparities exist. The forthcoming Police Race Action Plan must take on board the research recommendations. Inspectorates must consider ethnic bias when inspecting statutory agencies involved with missing children and adults. And further academic research is desperately needed to understand the causes and consequences within the research findings.
Jahnine Davis, founder of the consultancy company Listen Up, said the findings of the report highlighted racism.
Children are going missing, they are experiencing harm and at risk of further danger, but due the color of their skin they are not provided protection. This is racism and it must be recognised as a child protection issue. All children have the right to be protected, supported and provided with care regardless of the ethnicity and care status.
In June last year, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) reportedly launched a Police Race Action Plan aimed at tackling discrimination and boosting the number of black officers and staff.
Deputy Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson, the NPCC’s lead for missing people, said they intend to work with the charity “to consider how best to collectively address concerns around bias and investigator training.”
“We recognise that some black, Asian and minority ethnic families have felt that their concerns over a missing family member were taken less seriously,” Hankinson said.
Youle hopes that the report will help “ensure communities receive an equitable response and potentially reduce harm experienced by missing people.”