I wrote a book about my struggles with the case of my missing son, Damien Nettles. I felt it was necessary to write our journey into my own words. The emotional turmoil of a child missing is beyond words. I can only express what I have known. It goes without saying that anytime a family member mysteriously goes missing, it is unbearable for the family left behind. There are few resources for a family like mine; no guidance came from the police for us. We were fortunate to stumble on the Charity, Missing People, who provided guidance and support.Since that time I have been working with people who have come my way to make improvements/change in how missing persons cases are handled.
So much can go wrong in the initial stages of a missing episode. I say episode as in some cases, especially missing from care and County Lines, are revolving door cases which most of the time have some resolution until the next episode. There are significant resources in place through National Crime Agency with focus on the exploitation of young and vulnerable people.
The most important thing the police need to do, and is very simple, listen to the concerns of the family who know that person better than anyone. Act upon it, immediately!
In our case, we suffered from a feeling of helpless sadness and desperation, not being heard. We could not comprehend the scope of what was happening. We were in a state of shock. There needs to be understanding of the dynamics of the situation that has befallen the family left behind to cope. When someone goes missing, knowingly or unknowingly, they take several lives with them which will forever be damaged. In some cases, destroyed. Lives veering onto a new dark path. Unfulfilled hopes and dreams. Lost opportunities. Missed happiness. Deep sadness, anxiety, and depression. Broken relationships. The list goes on. My experience spans 25 years at the time of writing this. There appears to be increased awareness/willingness by authorities to look closer at such cases, but mistakes, often fatal are still made. Especially in the case young males who are often stereotyped as out on the town, lads being lads. Change is very slow.