Vanished Doncaster teen Andrew Gosden's family speak out as figures show someone is reported missing almost every hour in South Yorkshire
A person was reported missing almost every hour in South Yorkshire last year, official figures show.
South Yorkshire Police received 7641 calls reporting 'missing or absent people' between April 2015 and March 2016 - just short of 21 calls a day and nearly one an hour.
The county force had the 13th highest number of calls on a table of 43 police forces across England and Wales and a new dedicated 'Missing Persons Hub' is to be launched to enable police and council staff to work more closely on tackling the issue of disappearing people.
The father of Andrew Gosden - the Doncaster teenager who went missing nearly ten years ago without a trace - has now spoken about the need for more to be done to prevent young people from running away never to be seen again.
Kevin Gosden, aged 51, of Balby, said: "The number of people reported missing is going up every year. I welcome the new Missing Persons Hub and the authorities really need to focus on prevention.
"It should be part of the school curriculum where youngsters are taught that if they run away they are at risk of abuse and could end up penniless on the streets or worse. I think parents should also speak with their children about the issue so the potential problem is tackled early."
He added: "The pain of not knowing what happened to Andrew still tears us apart. I hope more can be done so other families don't have to suffer like we have."
Andrew was aged 14 when he left his home in Balby in September 2007, took £200 from his bank account and was last seen on CCTV at London King’s Cross station.
The missing persons figures were revealed in data from the National Crime Agency, which showed 335, 624 missing person calls were made to police forces across England and Wales in 2015/16. These numbers represent a 15 per cent increase on the previous 12-month period.
The NCA also published data for the first time that examines why people go missing. It shows that one in five people who disappear nationally are reported to have some form of mental health issue. Meanwhile, abduction and relationship issues are also two of the most common reasons why people disappear.
Claire Cook, from the charity Missing People, said: "What's clear is that it's not just the police that have to deal with missing people, this is a societal issue and one we have to tackle together."
Temporary chief superintendent Shaun Morley, force lead for missing people, said: “We work very closely with a number of organisations with the 'South Yorkshire Missing Persons' protocol in place, which South Yorkshire Police and the four local authorities in the county have agreed and is seen as national best practice.
“We are also just about to introduce a dedicated Missing Persons Hub in Sheffield, which will see specialist resources from both the police and Sheffield Council co-located, to provide an end to end and thorough service in locating missing people and prevention work to take place to reduce the risk of them going missing in future.”
*Have you seen Andrew Gosden? Contact police on 101.