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National Missing Persons Week

Source: SAPOL

This year National Missing Persons Week is focusing on the link between dementia and going missing. The annual awareness campaign, which is co-ordinated across the country by National Missing Persons Coordination Centre in Canberra, starts today.3 August NMPW Poster for launch storyWhile people leave home without notice for many reasons, dementia-related illnesses are associated with adults who go missing.These vulnerable people may simply wander off, become lost and confused and unable to make contact. They may forget well-known people or places and have an inability to process questions or instructions.With one-in-15 people over 65 suffering from moderate to severe dementia – a disease which can also affect young people – those who cannot find their way home is significant.

Superintendent Greg Hutchins, Officer in Charge of Major Crime Investigations Branch, says there are three main groups of people at risk of going missing: those living with a mental illness, young people and older people with dementia or memory loss.

“About one-third of people who go missing have been reported as missing more than once. This is particularly the case for people with dementia,” he said.

“If your family member suffers from dementia, intellectual disabilities, autism or other conditions that can cause people to become confused and forgetful, find out about Alzheimer’s Australia’s Safe Return program.

“People registered with Safe Return wear a stainless steel bracelet at all times.

“This has a personalised number and a police emergency number. The wearer’s details and carer’s contact details are stored on a police database, to provide rapid and accurate identification and help police get the person home.”

Last financial year 12,251 South Australians were reported missing.

While some people leave and do not wish to be found, police appeal to anyone who’s left home without a word to please make contact to say they’re safe.

“Most missing people are located within a short time but others are not, much to the distress of families and friends,” Supt Hutchins said.

“Going missing is not a crime, but please think of those you’ve left and let them know you are safe. You can contact your local police to pass the message on, if you don’t want to speak to family or friends.

“For families and friends with someone missing, it’s important to report it as soon as possible, to give police the greatest possible chance of locating the person quickly and safely.

“The general rule is, if you are concerned about someone whose whereabouts are unknown and there are serious concerns for their health and well-being; please make a report to police.

“There’s no waiting time to make a report – you don’t have to give people 24 hours to turn up – and there’s no time limit on making a report, even if its months since they were last seen.

“Police never close an investigation until the person is located, even if it takes years.”


What happens when a person is reported missing:

  • Local police make the initial enquiries following a report made at the local police station.
  • Local police advise South Australia Police’s Missing Person Investigation Section (MPIS) and the officers there monitor and assist local  police.
  • If the person hasn’t been located after 30 days, MPIS takes over responsibility for the investigation. 
  • If the circumstances in which a person goes missing are considered suspicious, local detectives or Major Crime Investigations Branch take over the investigation.
  • Reports of missing people are closely monitored as well as reviewed at regular stages of the investigation. 
  • Police will not stop investigating until the person has been located – even if that takes years.


For more information on National Missing Person’s Week:


FREE CALL – 1800 000 634

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