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Reporting Absent Rather than Missing


Please provide details of the force’s policy on recording people as “absent” rather than missing:

  • is there a set time limit before the record shifts to missing?
  • do you have age limits?
  • can children be recorded as “absent”?
  • can Looked After Children be recorded as “absent”?
  • can those missing on a first occasion be recorded as “absent”?


For each of the following questions please provide answers and figures for current date, and, if possible, for a fixed date of your choosing in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

1. Do you have a dedicated Missing Persons Team in the force? If so how many officers are involved? (If not how many Missing Persons coordinators are there in the force?)

2. Do you have a dedicated Burglaries team in the force? If so how many officers are involved?

3. Do you have a dedicated Traffic and Roads policing team in the force? If so how many officers are involved?

4. Do you have dedicated Anti-Trafficking team in the force? If so how many officers are involved?


1. In September 2015 the constabulary departed from using the broader definition of “missing” and  adopted the following definitions of “missing” and “absent”.

Missing is defined as:
"Anyone whose whereabouts cannot be established and they are either:
• aged under 18; or
• aged 18 or older, and the circumstances are out of character or the context suggests the person may be subject of crime or at risk of harm to themselves or another"

Absent is defined as:
"A person, aged 18 or older, not at a place where they are expected or required to be and there is no apparent risk"

There are no set time limits before a person’s status changes from “absent” to “missing”.  A status of “absent” is not applied to children and young people under the age of 18. Adults who satisfy the absent definition will, on a first occasion of going absent, be classified as absent.

Staffing questions:

1. We do not have a dedicated missing person team.  It is the responsibility of every officer to respond to and investigate missing persons in the course of their duties.  We do, however, have three missing person coordinators – one for each of the three policing areas of Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset.

2. We do not have dedicated burglary team. We do have teams of investigators who are responsible for focusing on offenders who typically commit such offences like burglary. They are part of the specialist investigation teams. There are a total of 110 posts in these teams.

3. Avon and Somerset are now part of Tri force. Tri Force is a collaboration between Avon and Somerset Constabulary, Gloucestershire Constabulary and Wiltshire Police on many areas of policing including road policing. 

In 2015 the Tri Force Roads Policing Teams consisted of:

6 Patrol Groups of 19 Roads Policing Police Constables totalling 114

12 Roads Policing Sergeants

6 Roads Policing Trained Patrol Inspectors

1 Roads Policing Policy Inspector

2 Roads Policing Policy Sergeants

1 Collision Investigation Unit Inspector

3 Collision Investigation Sergeants

12 Collison Investigation Police Constables

Please note that these figures do not relate directly to our roads policing capabilities as we will often be assisted by neighbouring forces as and when required.

In addition the Constabulary also has safety camera enforcement officers.

4. We do not have a specific dedicated Anti-Trafficking team. We have a lead for modern slavery force wide and also in each policing area of Bristol, Bath and North east Somerset, and Somerset. We also have seven Slavery Safeguarding leads for victims of trafficking. Training for police officers and staff in identifying and safeguarding victims and bringing offenders to justice is ongoing.


FOI Ref:259/16

Date of Request 12.02.16