Missing Children Publication Hub
Published In: 2014
When the Search is Over: Reconnecting missing children and adults
(by Lucy Holmes)
This study has sought to explore the ways in which missing people are reconnected with family, carers, support agencies or a place of safety. The term ‘reconnection’ encompasses a range of potential outcomes for missing people, including a return home to live with their family or carers, contact with search and support agencies (such as the police or social services) or other safe places (such as hospitals or hostels), or a long-lost family member being traced and passing a message to their family. Reconnection does not require direct contact between the missing person and their family, but may be brokered through a third party. Nor does reconnection require that the missing person resumes contact with everyone who is searching. Finally, reconnection may not be permanent, as a reconnected person may go missing or lose contact again. Events that follow a missing incident are likely to have an impact on the formerly missing person’s wellbeing and that of the other people affected by the disappearance. The period after reconnection also presents opportunities: to put in place interventions to reduce the likelihood of that person going missing again; to undertake safeguarding work to reduce the risk should they go missing again; to find ways to change the pattern of any future missing incidents (e.g. reduce the duration, distance travelled etc.); and to inform future investigations by gathering intelligence about the incident. This research aims to improve understanding of the reconnection process, which can be a challenging and distressing time, as well as a time of happiness and relief. It also aims to support the development of services for formerly missing people and their families that are designed to meet their needs effectively.
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