The mystery behind Sussex’s missing people – do you know where they are?

Just eight of the missing people from Sussex
Just eight of the missing people from Sussex

Every year 180,000 people are reported missing and for the family and friends left behind it is devastating not knowing what has happened to their loved one.

Click here to see the pictures of the people who are missing from Sussex. Please note this may not include every single person who is currently missing.

While some of the people missing disappeared this year, other cases stretch back years.

It is also feared that some of the those missing have been trafficked – in particular the large number of young boys and girls from abroad who have disappeared once in Sussex.

In 2008, the Guardian ran an article about trafficking and mentioned four young girls who were last seen in Sussex awaiting asylum hearings and who were now feared to have been dragged into the brothel network. You can read the Guardian article about the trafficking and brothel epidemic here.

On this topic a spokesman from Sussex Police said: “A number of young people entering the country illegally are flagged as at risk of trafficking or child sexual exploitation and we work with partners to ensure that they are put in places of safety and to assess whether they are at risk.”

Many of the those missing have families who are desperately searching for answers. A high profile case has been that of mum-of-two Georgina Gharsalla who was last seen this year on March 7 in Worthing. Sussex Police are offering a £5,000 reward. You can read more about Georgina Gharsalla here and how her mum is making sure the disappearance of her daughter is not forgotten.

Another case is that of Fatima Mohamed, who was 52 when she meant missing in February 2016 from her home in Denton, Newhaven. At the start of this year (January 2018) Sussex Police released CCTV footage containing a possible sighting of her in Brighton, but she has still not been found. You can see the CCTV footage and read more about Fatima here.

Malcolm Lees disappeared from Bexhill on June 22, 2006. According to the Missing People Facebook page, he left at about 8pm saying “I’m going out”, but has not been heard from since.

Although it is thought that Malcolm may have gone to London or nearby Brighton, it is also possible he could have travelled to Tenerife. Malcolm was 42 when he went missing, was of slim build with cropped dark brown hair, blue eyes, and 5ft 9in tall. Although he may have been unwell his disappearance was completely out of character.

Just over a year ago 49-year-old Barnham mum Helen Slaughter disappeared in November 2017 – read Helen’s husband plea for her to return home here – while almost 11 years ago Ferring mother-of-two Elaine Taggart disappeared, aged 48. Read more about Elaine Taggart here.

Architect Bankoku Sasagawa, was 43 years old when he went missing on the way from Sussex to London. He was last seen at 5.30pm on May 12, 2010, after his friend left him at Arundel Railway Station. You can find out more about the Japanese national here.

74-year-old grandmother Joyce Wells disappeared from her Bexhill home in 2009 and despite her daughters appearing on BBC and a countrywide search her case still remains on the police list as unsolved. You can read more about Joyce Wells here.

Gillian Affleck was 50 when she was last seen in Brighton in August 2017. Her partner Martina Walton said on the year anniversary of her disappearance: “Not knowing where Gill is or what has happened to her is the worst feeling in the world, not being able move on, not having closure to mourn, not having any comfort in knowing where Gill is.” You can read more about Gillian Affleck here.

To see the pictures of those that are missing from Sussex, click here.

Sussex Police deal with a large number of ‘active’ missing people investigations a day, varying from fewer than ten to more than 30 on any given date.

A spokesman from Sussex Police explained: “We continue to investigate missing persons until all viable lines of enquiry have been completed.

“At that point, the investigation will be reclassified as inactive (a long term missing person), which is reviewed on an annual basis by a detective inspector.

“That said, if new information or intelligence becomes available in the meantime, then we will, of course, act upon it.

“We are aware that people can choose to go missing; our primary role is to check if they have been subjected to crime. If we can be certain this is not the case, then we will consider if there are any other risks.”

What to do if someone goes missing

The advice from is that if someone goes missing, contact anyone you think may know their whereabouts – if you’re still concerned, contact your local police.

You don’t have to wait 24 hours before contacting the police.

The police may ask you:

* for their photo

* details of their friends or relatives

* details of places the person often visits

* whether they had a medical condition

* for a sample of their DNA, eg from a toothbrush

With a relative’s permission, they may also ask to search the person’s home.

The person will be recorded as missing and their details made available to other UK police forces within 48 hours.

Knowing when someone is found

If the police find a person aged under 18, their parent(s) or guardian(s) will usually be told their whereabouts unless police believe the child’s safety is at risk.

If the person is aged over 18, the police won’t pass on their whereabouts without their permission.

Organisations that help find missing people

There are a number of organisations that help, with one of them being Missing People.

This year marks 25 years of Missing People, an independent charity, which operates a free and confidential helpline 24 hours a day to provide non-judgemental advice and guidance to anybody who is missing or away from home, as well as practical and emotional support to those dealing with the heartbreak of missing a loved one. It is funded by many partners, including players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Other organisations include Missing Persons Bureau; Missing Kids UK; and Look For Them.

People missing abroad

If someone goes missing abroad you should contact your local police - they will contact the police force in the relevant country via Interpol. You should also contact The Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 020 7008 1500 (ask for ‘Consular Protection’).

Report a sighting of a missing person

If you spot a missing person contact the police.

If you want to remain anonymous, you can contact Missing People to report the sighting on 116000.