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Missing persons reports rise, most found

AAP logoAAP 24/11/2016 Megan Neil

The number of people reported missing in Australia each year has risen, most of whom are found alive within days.

But 3,330 people who have been reported missing since 2008 have not yet been found, new research released on Thursday shows.

The number of missing persons reports received by police each year has risen from about 30,000 to 38,000, the Australian Federal Police and Australian Institute of Criminology said.

Almost all Australians who are reported missing return or are located alive, AIC researchers found, noting there is no consistent information available about whether they returned to the place they left.

The research showed 98 per cent of the 305,268 people reported missing nationally between 2008 and 2015 were located and a majority found alive.

AFP Acting Assistant Commissioner Chris Sheehan said the public should follow their instincts when concerned about a loved one's welfare.

"This research has found that approximately 60 per cent of those who were reported missing were located within the first 48 hours," he said.

"If you have concerns for a person's safety or welfare, I urge you to contact your local police immediately. You do not have to wait 24 hours."

Half of all people reported missing during the eight-year period were teenagers.

Young people aged 13 to 17 were reported missing at a rate about six times the national average.

Queensland data showed teenagers were also much more likely to have been reported missing multiple times, the report said.

It noted international studies suggested a large proportion of young people who go missing are runaways who leave because it is difficult or unsafe to remain.

Most return home or are soon located, as was the case in the AIC study.

Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan said a larger research report, to be released in April, will look at vulnerable groups at risk of going missing, stranger and parental abductions, missing indigenous Australians and links between missing persons and domestic violence.

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