UK police locate missing Chinese teen Mei Chen, silent on details

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Seventeen-year-old Chinese student Mei Chen, who vanished from her host family's home in Scarborough, England, was found safe and well on Thursday by police. Her host family suggested she was travelling to meet an unknown person from the Internet; Wikinews has contacted authorities to establish the circumstances, but has received no answers.

A file photo of a train in Scarborough.
Image: Peter Skuce.

North Yorkshire Police launched an urgent appeal on Tuesday for the teen's whereabouts, and alerted all of the United Kingdom's regular police forces as well as the British Transport Police and border authorities. She had been studying in Scarborough's International School since arriving in the country in October.

The original police appeal has since been removed, and replaced with a boilerplate notice the content "may have been moved or deleted", possibly "because the crime has been solved or the missing person found." The 5-foot-1-inch (1.55m) girl was reported missing by her host family on Monday, with them suggesting they were "very concerned" for her. They also raised concerns Chen may be taken advantage of due to her young age, and reported she had discussed visiting London to meet an online friend.

Cquote1.svg it [is] hard to contemplate just how harrowing an experience a missing loved one overseas can be Cquote2.svg

—Matt Searle

"No matter where in the world it happens, a loved one becoming a missing person is devastating for all involved", Matt Searle, Chief Executive of The Lucie Blackman Trust, told Wikinews on Thursday night. The charity provides support to those within the UK who experience loved ones abroad going missing, and more broadly supports UK victims of serious crimes overseas. Searle noted families of those missing find themselves "forever fearing the worst and imagining unthinkable outcomes", adding "when all of this is happening on the other side of the world, continents away, families feel even more helpless. At home they could talk to police, authorities and other organisations, go to the site they were last seen and at least do something. This is often impossible in overseas cases — culture and language barriers often create huge hurdles in simply reporting a case at all." He concluded by saying that, while charities such as his can provide some support, ultimately "it [is] hard to contemplate just how harrowing an experience a missing loved one overseas can be."

Investigators found Chen caught a train from Scarborough on Monday morning shortly before 10:00 and alighted at York. From there, she caught another train travelling via Peterborough to London. Wikinews contacted three police forces in a bid to establish where Chen was found, and if any investigations into the circumstances of her disappearance are ongoing. British Transport Police told our correspondent the force was "alerted in the same way we would be for any missing person thought to be travelling on the rail network".

A British Transport Police spokeswoman told Wikinews, "I believe this was a North Yorks Police investigation, so you'd need to contact them for details." She also said the force "wouldn't hold that sort of info" in response to our inquiries. Wikinews asked North Yorkshire Police for the same information, but has received no response; the Metropolitan Police, which cover the London area, also failed to reply.

A message to the National Crime Agency, which includes a Child Exploitation and Online Protection area, has also gone unanswered. Wikinews wished to know if the agency was aware of the case and, if so, if they were conducting any investigations.

Scarborough International School of English describes its goal as "to develop a warm, safe and caring atmosphere where every student will be happy and successful in learning English." Its website describes "a strong sense of belonging to a family community here". Wikinews contacted the school but they did not reply.

North Yorkshire Police have issued a terse statement confirming Chen has been found, and thanking the public for sharing their initial, removed, appeal.


Sources

Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

External links

Bookmark-new.svg