Essex Police uses hi-tech tool to trace runaways

Essex Police is using a powerful computer system to improve the speed at which it can track down persistent young runaways.

Aug 9, 2007
By Damian Small

Essex Police is using a powerful computer system to improve the speed at which it can track down persistent young runaways.

Community Policing and Case Tracking (COMPACT) enhances the efficiency of the investigating process and recording missing persons cases and enables officers to share information at the click of a button.

In 2006, Essex Police received 1,951 reports of missing people, the vast majority involved children or young people who had gone missing three times or more. Previously, all reports were held in paper files that made it difficult to piece together information about repeat runaways, such as addresses to check and friends and relatives.

Developed by WPC Software, COMPACT builds up case histories of missing persons and ranks each individual as high, medium or low risk, enabling Essex Police to carry out a risk assessment on everyone who disappears. Officers can see, for example, how many times a person has gone missing and get an idea of where to look for them based on previous enquiries.

A ‘briefing sheet’ summary, containing details and photographs of missing persons, is displayed when users log onto the system – these can be easily printed for officers to take on patrol with them as a ready reference.

Sgt Emma Brookes from the Essex Police Missing Persons Project said: “The COMPACT system will allow us to control all missing persons investigations centrally and within a single database. This will make it much easier for us to access timely information about persistent young runaways and locations where they may be found.

“Officers of all ranks will be trained to use COMPACT which demonstrates the importance we place on missing persons investigations. We will also share information with our partner organisations, including local authorities and care facilities, so that we can work together to reduce the number of repeat runaways in Essex.”

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