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Last Updated: Monday, 20 August 2007, 10:14 GMT 11:14 UK
Missing persons 'map' launched
Map of missing persons in the UK
The map shows vulnerable missing persons cases in each region
An online "missing map" showing where people have disappeared in the UK has been launched by a charity.

The map is produced by Missing People, formerly the National Missing Persons Helpline, who estimate that 210,000 people are reported missing every year.

The charity is also launching Missing People TV - a channel featuring video appeals by relatives of missing people.

And it has set up appeals on social networking websites like MySpace, Bebo and Facebook to try to find people.

Donna Holland, from Missing People, said the map would allow people to search their region of the UK.

"The missing map enables people to view which vulnerable missing cases we are currently publicising in their area.

"I think it engages people and helps them realise there are people close to them who have gone missing."

Vulnerable cases include children and people with a history of physical or mental illness.

Publicity boost

Last year, Missing People dealt directly with 1,800 families looking for loved ones.

They say one of the challenges is to keep a case in the public eye as time passes and hope the online television channel can help.

That's where children of that age seem to get together now - in cyber world
Bill Osborn
Father of missing Samantha, 15

Ms Holland said: "We'll be making video appeals around the anniversaries of long-term missing cases when publicity has tended to drop off.

"Also, more family and friends of missing people are producing their own video appeals and putting them on sites like YouTube. Missing People TV will bring all those together in one place."

As part of its Get Together Week, Missing People commissioned a survey which found that 75% of 18 to 24-year-olds use networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.

The charity wants to reach this audience by creating its own pages and encouraging users to help find vulnerable people.

'Cyber world'

Gill and Bob Osborn's 15-year-old daughter Samantha went missing from Buckingham in April and they told BBC Radio 4's Today programme these sites could be very powerful.

"That's where children of that age seem to get together now," Mr Osborn said.

The idea really is simply to tap into the vast use of these sites by the general public
Geoff Newiss, Missing People

"They don't meet in cafes or on street corners so much. It's in cyber world where they all speak, so that is the best way to contact her friends and associates who might be able to look out for her."

Samantha's 13-year-old brother Jack has helped his parents set up their own MySpace and Bebo appeals and has also made a video appeal himself to post on the internet.

Geoff Newiss, head of policy and research at Missing People, said: "The idea really is simply to tap into the vast use of these sites by the general public."




SEE ALSO
From here to cyberspace
19 Jun 07 |  Technology
The missing link
18 Oct 06 |  Magazine

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