Police Failing to Log Ethnicity for Many Missing People, BBC Analysis Finds

Police Failing to Log Ethnicity for Many Missing People, BBC Analysis Finds

LONDON – Police forces across England and Wales are failing to record the ethnicity of many people reported missing, a BBC analysis of data suggests.

In almost a fifth of all missing persons cases in 2022-23, there was either no ethnic group logged or the individual’s ethnicity was marked as “unknown”, according to Freedom of Information data obtained from police forces.

Five forces failed to record ethnicity in over half of their missing persons cases.

The Home Office says it is funding a report to examine this issue. The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) told the BBC it is working with missing persons charities to understand why this is happening and make improvements.

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Accurately recording people’s ethnicity helps police identify if someone from a particular community is more likely to go missing, according to Jane Hunter of the charity Missing People. “Without data, it’s really difficult to properly understand what’s going on,” she said.

The analysis covered 32 forces across England and Wales. Almost 47,000 cases had “no”, “other” or “unknown” listed for ethnicity. Another 11 forces either did not respond to the FOI request or could not provide usable data.

“Unknown” was the most common ethnicity recorded apart from white. Experts say this gap in information needs addressing to better spot trends and allocate resources to find missing people.

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