What happened to Yorkshire’s missing people in 2019?
It was reported by the Yorkshire Post on 27th December 2019 that across Yorkshire more than 30,000 reports of people missing were made during 2018/19.
The county’s largest police force, West Yorkshire Police, recorded a total of 18,629 reports of missing people. The vast majority of those individuals, 18,596 were found alive, 13 were found dead and 20 are still to be found.
There are many reasons why people go missing. Solicitor, Sarah Young, is a specialist on the law affecting adults who go missing in England and Wales;
“A small minority of people who go missing are never found. Their ‘left behind’ families are left in an unimaginable emotional limbo – there’s no closure for loved ones in this situation and to add to the trauma there can often be financial and legal complications that arise as a result of the disappearance”.
If a missing adult is believed to have died, then it is possible for an application to be made to the High Court under the Presumption of Death Act 2013 for a declaration of presumed death. This acts in place of a death certificate (which will not be issued in the absence of a body) and enables a family to administer a missing person’s estate. This can often be very important where a missing person owned a property jointly which can’t be sold or re-mortgaged otherwise.
People can go missing for many different reasons, but a majority are due to mental health issues. It is sometimes the case that a family will believe that their loved one is missing but still alive and they will want to manage their finances and property in the hope that they will one day return. The Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017 came into force on 31st July 2019 and now enables someone to be appointed as a guardian to manage a missing person’s affairs. An application needs to be made to the High Court and usually 90 days will have to pass before an application can be made.
Sarah Young comments: –
“Many people – including in the police and other organisations – still think that families can’t take any action to protect a missing person’s finances or property until 7 years have passed. This is a myth. The law does offer help to left behind families struggling with financial and legal problems following a disappearance”.