Friday, 30 November 2018

The ‘Men missing on a night out’ study one year on

Visiting Research Fellow, University of Portsmouth, Geoff Newiss has written us a blog to follow up on his 'missing on a night out study'. published last year. 
 It’s nearly a year since, together with my colleague Ian Greatbatch, I published the ‘Men missing on a night out’ study.

The timing was deliberate. In more than half of the 96 fatal disappearances we examined the person went missing in the winter months of December, January and February. Six men had been on a work Christmas party the night they went missing, and five went missing on New Year’s Eve or the early hours of January 1.

Whilst the study was primarily undertaken to inform search strategies, we also wanted to highlight these cases in a bid to prevent further loss of life.

Given that almost nine out of 10 men died in water the “don’t drink and drown” theme was widely reported and shared on social media. Sadly, some nights out still ended in tragedy.

December last year saw a truly applaudable effort from the Search and Rescue community to take direct action to keep people safe over the Christmas period.

River boat patrols were operated in some of the UK’s ‘hotspots’ for (fatal) missing on a night out incidents including Shrewsbury (West Mercia Search and Rescue), Kent (Kent Search and Rescue), Bath (Serve On and SARAID), Norfolk (Norfolk Search and Rescue) and York (York Rescue Boat). (Apologies if I’ve missed any – please let us know in the comments below).

Quite simply, these saved lives.

The loss of a loved one following a night out is, of course, a personal tragedy. Yet spare a thought also for the growing number of relatives and friends still waiting for an answer to the disappearance of their loved one in the same circumstances.

It’s this very experience that Nicki Durbin – mother of Luke who disappeared on a night out in 2006 – now brings to the Missing People helpline.

My research may have ‘shone a light’ on a particular aspect of the missing person phenomena. But it’s the efforts of the many organisations, staff and volunteers who help to prevent tragedies – and help people cope with unresolved loss – that really deserve our thanks.

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