Police have used National Missing Persons Week to debunk the myths about reporting a missing person.
Sunday marked the start of National Missing Persons Week, an annual campaign to raise awareness of the issues and impacts surrounding missing persons.
The aim of this year’s campaign is to encourage people to follow their instincts when it comes to a friend or family member that has gone missing.
It is common for people think they need to wait 24 hours, 48 hours, or longer before they can make a missing persons report to police, but this is not true.
In Australia, a missing person is defined as anyone whose whereabouts are unknown and there are immediate concerns for their safety and welfare.
“When it comes to a missing person a lot of information that police can use expires,” Central Hunter acting crime manager Acting Detective Inspector Mitch Dubojski said.
“A lot of security vision expires, it can also limit our physical search such as the use of animals.
“Pedestrians and traffic can reduce the trace that the animals use to help with the search.
“The earlier someone is reported missing, it just gives us the best possible chance to find them.”
An estimated 35,000 people are reported missing to police each year, which equates to one person every 15 minutes.
According to figures from the Australian Federal Police, 99.5 per cent of these people are found and 85 per cent are found within a week of being reported missing.
About two-thirds of missing persons are under the age of 18 and most are found at a friend’s house.
Inspector Dubojski encouraged Hunter residents to become more aware of where their loved ones were and help prevent missing persons reports.
“Be aware of where your family are at all times, especially if they are vulnerable,” he said.
NSW Police Force will highlight one missing person profile each day during the campaign and so will the Mercury.
For more information visit www.missingpersons.gov.au