Reported MissingEvery two minutes someone in Britain goes missing. Multiple cameras follow the hunt for missing people, from the police tasked with finding them, to loved ones left at home.
In Darlington, the police are increasingly concerned for the safety of twelve-year-old Joshua who has stormed off after a row with his mum and seemingly disappeared. Prone to escaping into a superhero-inspired world of fantasy, Joshua’s learning difficulties and trusting nature make him especially vulnerable and as the minutes become hours, then yet more hours, and as darkness falls, fears mount.
It’s down to Inspector Sarah Honeyman and her team to try and find Joshua before it’s too late: “The biggest fear is that somebody snatches that child, as a police officer you are very well aware that there is more people out there that would do that than maybe the general public think or believe." "Your child is the most precious thing in your life. As a parent myself you'd really be looking for somebody to say everything is going to be okay but you can't give that guarantee, and it would be wrong to."
Not far away, in a rural town in County Durham, the alarm is raised when 13-year-old Katie disappears from home leaving behind a troubling suicide note. All available officers are immediately scrambled to the search, and a search dog and handler from the local Mountain Rescue team is drafted in – but budget cuts mean police helicopters are more thinly stretched than ever, and with the local one tied up on a firearms job, there's an agonising wait to try and get vital air support.
PC Matt Gunby, whose difficult job it is to wait with the family, knows it doesn't get any more serious than this: "A missing person in a negative frame of mind is a completely different matter to deal with. Then when you find a suicide note everything else goes out the window. The parade room at the station will empty and you will get every available officer will go and look for that child."
But it’s the family who feel it most keenly as everything hangs in the balance. Katie’s mother Jackie explains: "That day, I remember snippets of that day. To be honest I’d seen her going to bed the night before, there was no, there was no signs that.
Just six weeks after his wedding 28-year-old Darren vanishes, apparently into thin air, leaving Inspector Simon Orton and the team at Durham Police baffled: "I would expect that there will be some crumb will come out: some spark, a sighting, a phone call from somebody who's spoken to them, you know. There will be like a proof of life- and that’s what we’re after, a proof of life. But it’s almost like he just disappeared off the face of the earth.” As detectives dig deeper into events leading up to Darren’s disappearance, they uncover secrets and lies. All is not what it seems, but there are many reasons why people don’t always tell the police the whole truth and it’s down to Claire McElvaney and her partner from South Durham CID to work out what is relevant to their investigation and what is not.
“People do have secrets. It’s quite common. Our job is to work out who they really are and what they’re about. What they’re thinking, how their lifestyle is. I just automatically think what is going in in your head? Where are you going? What are you gonna go and do next? And it really does make me try and get back into their heads again of what’s around you? What have you just done?”
When Peter checks on his 82-year-old father at home one morning as normal, he finds the house empty. Suffering from advancing dementia, Archie has vanished – leaving no sign of where he might be.
As Sergeant Barry Evans explains: "You're trying to work out why has he gone missing: is it a physicality thing, he's slipped, he's fallen, he's hurt himself and we need to find him because he needs our assistance medically...Is it a case of he's taken a walk that's too far, that he's bewildered, he doesn't know what to do. Or alternatively, possibly, that somebody has taken advantage of his vulnerabilities, because he's not quite aware of what's going on."
PC Geoff Moore's job is to get as much information as he can from the son, Peter: “Family are hurting and you've gotta be mindful of emotions but at the same time I've got a short space of time to gather as much information as I can."
As an ex-paratrooper, Archie has been physically fit all his life and has been struggling to accept his increasing fragility. Dementia sufferers are known to travel vast distances when they disappear, and a full-scale land and air search is launched to find Archie.
But as hours tick by without so much as a single confirmed sighting, and a neighbour comes forward with CCTV of potentially suspicious activity at Archie's home address, the police begin to suspect foul play.