A 10 year follow-up study of young people reported missing to the police for the first time in 2005
Young people who go missing face significant risks and vulnerabilities, yet there has been limited research looking their longer-term criminal justice-related outcomes. The aim of this study was to explore the criminal justice and mental health-related trajectories of a random sample of 215 young people reported missing for the first time in 2005, followed up for a decade. Two thirds (64.7%) of the sample had accumulated an offence history and 68.4% a victimisation history. More than a third were reported missing multiple times; these youth were characteristically different to single episode missing persons with respect to police contacts and mental health-related vulnerability. Results highlight a significant level of mental health concern among a population that police are not adequately equipped to respond to. Further research is needed to better understand motivations for going missing and the extent of risks and vulnerabilities they face while missing and upon return.