Missing Persons‎ > ‎

Child 5-8

Missing Child Aged 5-8 years


Statistics taken directly from Grampian Stats report 2007.


Summary of likely places found/time to found and distance from being last seen. Followed by characteristics and further information.


Likely places children will be found. Cumulative percentage of cases

·       31% Traced walking in the street/park

·       27% Returned to their place of residence

·       21% Went to relatives address

·       19% Went to friends address 

·       3%    Traced at shops or community/ leisure centre


Distance between places missing and found.  Cumulative percentage of cases


·       30% 350m

·       50% 550m

·       70% 1.1km

·       80% 1.3km

·       90% 1.8km

·       99% 6.8kms


Time takes to locate missing children. Cumulative percentage of cases.


·       20% 45 minutes

·       40% 1 hrs 30 minutes

·       50% 2 hrs 00 minutes

·       70% 3 hrs 00 minutes

·       80% 4 hrs 00 minutes

·       90% 5 hrs 30 minutes

·       99% 30 hours 00 minutes


Things to consider:


·       Children of this age are now at school, they are learning about new areas and begin to travel further afield 

·       They make new friends, check with school for class list - parents are unlikely to know who they are associating with 

·       All of the children traced beyond the black circle were either ‘parental abductions’ or the result of misunderstandings between either parents or relatives as to who the child should be with 

·       Females of this age have a greater tendency to be traced at friend’s home, males tend to be found hanging about the streets 

·       Within this sample, 79% were female and 21% male 

·       69% went missing on foot, 11% on their bicycles

·       65% went missing from home, 20% from school 

·       46% were found by police and 40% by relatives (includes those who return home)


Guidance notes:


These ‘Profiles’ may be used by both supervisors and investigating officers as an aid to  formulating enquiry strategies, and as a ‘bench mark’ against which to establish and review risk assessments.


Virtually all reports of missing children processed by the police are classed as high priority, and attract a high risk assessment. Subsequent enquiries often result in the allocation of numerous police resources. Before committing these resources, supervisors should have a clear enquiry strategy, taking into account the most efficient use of available staff, time scales for working within and

an initial search/enquiry area into which their efforts should be concentrated.


In order to formulate an effective strategy, it is first necessary to have some knowledge of what the missing child is likely to do, the distances they are likely to travel and who they might be with. For example five year old children do not behave, or think, in the same way as fifteen year olds.


Studying the behaviour of missing children, it is possible to divide them into the following five distinct age groupings: ages 1 - 4, 5 - 8, 9 - 11, 12 - 14 and 15 - 16. Each of these groups tends to displays its own behavioural characteristics. Using these unique characteristics, it is possible for police officers to:


·       Establish a ‘high probability’ area within which to concentrate their enquiry. 

·       Utilise an intelligence-led approach in the deployment of resources. 

·       Target the most likely places where the child might be traced. 

·       Establish a likely time-frame within which there should be a reasonable expectation of tracing the child.



If the missing child is a 7 year old male, there is a high  probability they will be hanging about in the streets. Therefore concentrating police efforts into searching streets/public parks within an area 550 metres from the ‘place missing from’ may well be the most appropriate use of available resources. This could be followed up with address checks of relatives and friends within a slightly larger area. If resources allow, both these lines of enquiry could be carried out simultaneously.


Alternatively, if the missing child is a 7 year old female, there is a higher probability she will be at a friend’s house. The supervisor may therefore place a higher emphasis on having the addresses of all friends/relatives checked within the 70% zone (ie: up to one kilometre from the ‘place missing from’). The important issue here is obtaining a comprehensive list of friends’ addresses. The parents will have some knowledge, but the child could have numerous school friends the parents know nothing about. Consideration should be given to approaching the school for a full class list which can be used to systematically check all the addresses within the selected search area. Unless good information dictates otherwise, all address checks outwith the initial search area should be left until the decision is made to extend the search area.


In both the above cases, as well as carrying out an initial thorough search of the child’s home, further periodic checks should be made during the enquiry, as the child may return there and hide.


Should the initial search/enquiry be carried out and no trace of the missing child found, the enquiry supervisor will have to consider the following:

·       Are the time scales now beyond those in which there was a reasonable expectation of tracing the child ?

·       Are there still places within the initial search/enquiry area which require further investigation ?

·       Should the search be extended out beyond the areas initially selected ?

·       Does the incident justify further resources being allocated to it ?

·       Should the current status of the enquiry be brought to the attention of senior officers/CID ?


The statistical data contained in the preceding tables should assist officers in reaching logical informed decisions when considering these extremely important issues.