HUNDREDS of Wigan adults are going missing each year - and the number is rising, shock new figures show.
Data released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) show 628 people have been reported missing in the borough this year up until October 28, an increase on the 609 incidents recorded in the whole of last year.
In addition five people are still missing in the borough and there are three dormant cases from two years ago, including one person who has still not been found.
The figures for 2014 also showed a rise on the previous year, with 579 adults going missing in Wigan in 2013, according to Greater Manchester Police (GMP).
The force said finding missing Wiganers is extremely important as people who simply abandon their homes without warning are often extremely vulnerable and indicated the figures showed the vast majority of those who do go missing are quickly located.
Chief Insp Gareth Hughes from GMP Wigan division said: “Safeguarding vulnerable people is a priority for our officers here in Wigan.
“The people affected are some of the most vulnerable in our community and officers in our missing person safeguarding teams work alongside partner agencies such as social services.
“By working together all organisations have a better understanding about the person who is missing and as a result are able to provide the best possible safeguarding measures and develop opportunities to find them.
“On each occasion somebody is reported as missing to GMP they are created on our electronic missing from home system. Each missing episode will result in a new record being created and we ensure appropriate risk assessments are made in order for resources to be effectively allocated.
“This is all based on the level of vulnerability possessed by the person in question.”
The FOI stats show rising numbers of both men and women are going missing each year across the borough. This year 382 men and 206 women have been recorded as missing together with 40 incidents where the gender of the person in question has not been recorded.
This compares to figures in 2014 and 2013 of 349 and 335 men abandoning their homes and 204 and 200 women. The figures also show young men in particular are badly affected by the problem, with almost one in six people in Wigan going missing in recent years being males aged between 16 and 25. There have been 146 men in this age group reported missing in the borough this year, the highest for the past three years with figures of 107 and 145 recorded in 2014 and 2013 respectively.
National charity Missing People suggested the Wigan figures are far from an isolated occurrence, with the number of missing person incidents dealt with by police forces across the country rising by three per cent in 2014-15 compared to 2013-14, equivalent to more than 8,000 extra cases nationwide. The charity also said it is particularly concerned about the risk to young men who go missing while on a night out, who it says are particularly at risk of being later found dead in water. However, it could not comment on whether this situation applied to any of the Wigan figures recorded in the FOI data.
The number of such incidents in Greater Manchester is also currently rising again, with 20,402 incidents across the force in 2014-15 up on 19,567 in the previous 12-month period. However, this remains significantly below the highest recent number of missing persons incidents recorded in 2011-12, when there were 26,471.