Police Hour has learnt of the common tactic that police are using to find offenders faster & hoping to reach news outlets and social media pages because of the urgency that someone is missing.

Whilst we understand it is important that wanted offenders are arrested. But they must be circulated as Wanted & Missing, Not just missing. It is vital that these are not circulated as missing people will then become afraid if they are missing and wanted by will be arrested.

While using the good will of the community to come together and launch search parities, despite them not being missing but wanted by the police.

Police Hour is calling for this tactic to be banned because of the impact it could have on a missing person within a mental health crisis.

Our request is simple if a person is wanted by the police it should be clearly stated in the appeal that they are wanted and missing. Not just missing.

If they are missing because the police are looking for them, effectively they are not a missing person and it should clearly state they are wanted by the police because they have committed an offence and they are missing & believed to have concerns for their welfare.

We have all seen appeals posted using custody images and we all think that must be a police released image and have sat and wondered if that person is wanted or missing.

Having worked within an area of Hartlepool whereby a number of young people have taken their life’s and not reached out for support.

We spent some time getting to know some members of the community of a similar age, who all told us they’d never reach support because they believed all routes linked to the police.

When asked Cleveland Police why they told us that when they are wanted for an offence despite never having experienced mental health they are circulated as missing and vulnerable.

Officers then use the good will of the community to help find a wanted offender faster and when located they are arrested.

This has happened a number of times within the Cleveland Police area, within an area where a number of young lads within the same friend group as people no longer with us have been wanted by officers.

Within a community where locals are so concerned when a young person goes missing, because of what’s happening that search parties will quickly form on social media.

We spoke to Cleveland Police about this who told us it was common practice to circulate a wanted person who they knew was not missing as wanted.

The reason we are asking Police Comms teams to state when a person is wanted and missing is because within communities people are not reaching out for support when in crisis especially young people because they are seeing their friends posted missing on social media despite actually being wanted and only circulated as missing because the police officers cannot get hold of them.

Their friends do not know they were wanted for an offence and see them circulated as missing and then arrested. We already know of a number of local cases whereby a number of young men have killed them-selfs and reached out to no service for help and when we’ve spoken to their friends about why they’d never speak to anyone about their mental health, it’s because they believe they’ll be arrested for being missing.

We are not saying the police cannot process these as being missing but what we are saying that is if the person is missing because they are wanted for an offence it must be clearly stated that they are wanted by police and currently missing to avoid misleading the public and preventing people in crisis reaching out for support.

We have spoken to a number of people within the Cleveland Police area who have been recently circulated as missing, have told us they where wanted by the police for petty offences and more serious offences and where never vulnerable or had concerns about their wellbeing, they where simply arrested and processed into police custody when found with no mention of their mental health and wellbeing while under arrest.

We challenged this further an invited a local inspector to meeting to talk about local cases and why they’d circulated people as missing when wanted. That inspector failed to attend the meeting and they continue to use the word missing and vulnerable when looking for a wanted offender.

The Police must stop pretending wanted people are missing, when they are only missing because they are evading arrest because it is having a negative impact on young people too afraid crisis because they fear arrest if circulated by police as missing.

Using this prevents people who are genuinely in a mental health crisis from accessing support locally because they believe if they experience a mental health crisis they will be arrested with all roads leading back to the police.

Our request to police media teams is simple-stop highjacking suicide campaigns and when people are wanted by police simply use the word wanted. We are not asking for wanted and missing persons posts not to be shared we are asking their comms team to provide clear, accurate and informative information when a person is wanted and missing or wanted or missing.

Cleveland Police already have gotten into the habit of producing limited information around policing appeals, and missing people compared to other forces. They are just miles behind compared to more advances forces who just get it right.

Despite our simple request to use the word Wanted & Missing Cleveland Police responded to us saying “This post is false and misleading and could hamper our efforts in trying to ensure that vulnerable missing people are found quickly and safely.

“It would be helpful to use your social media platform to share info so we can locate people and get them any support they may require”

We responded saying The article was not misleading and “It would be helpful if you could use the word Wanted & missing or just wanted. There is nothing misleading within the post. We would be happy to educate the police media teams on how this can be harmful within a mental health case, and share our local stories”

Police Hour will be launching a campaign to change the language used, and would be happy to work and meet with forces who think it’s ok to circulate a person as missing when wanted and the consequences that on a missing person experiencing mental health because they fear arrest.

Some police forces around the UK have incredible comms teams who are already getting this right and provide clear accurate and informative information and clearly state when a person is wanted and missing.