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17 July 2014, 11:43
A new text service for vulnerable missing people across County Durham and Darlington's being launched by Durham Police.
The free service is provided by the 'Missing People' charity.
'TextSafe' has been devised by Missing People, which has 20 years' frontline experience in providing support, advice and practical help to anyone who has run away, gone missing or been forced to leave home.
Any officer dealing with a missing person enquiry can simply email Missing People to ask for a text to be sent directly to the mobile phone of the vulnerable person or child.
By informing them of the services provided by Missing People, they can choose if they wish to contact the charity and access the various options to them.
As the message comes directly from the organisation those who might hesitate to contact the police can get help from a 'neutral' and confidential charity.
It may be that as a result of getting in contact with Missing People, the missing person then decides to initiate contact with the police, their family or social services.
It costs the police nothing to register for TextSafe or to use it. It is also free for the missing person to call and text even if they have no credit on their phone.
The standard message sent to under-18s reads:
Have you run away? Please get in touch for free 24/7 confidential support. Call 116000 or text 116000. www.missingpeople.org.uk
For adults the message reads:
Away from home? Please get in touch for free 24/7 confidential support or a message home. Call 116000 or text 116000. www.missingpeople.org.uk
Det Supt Paul Goundry, head of safeguarding for Durham Constabulary said:
"The vast majority of people reported missing in our area are usually traced fit and well within a relatively short space of time. But for those who may be at real risk of harm, this service is a very valuable addition to our toolkit," said Det Supt Goundry.
We will be encouraging our staff to ask Missing People to send a TextSafe message in appropriate cases. It is a way of reaching out to offer help, and it could prevent a tragedy."