POLICE are urging men to look after each other, as a study makes a link between nights out and going missing.

The University of Portsmouth study looked at 96 fatal disappearances of men who were last seen socialising on a night out.

The winter months of December, January and February accounted for 53% of fatal disappearances, with 22% going missing in December.

Of those that went missing in December, six men were described as being on a work Christmas party and five went missing on New Year’s Eve or the early hours of January 1.

Taking a route home near water poses a particular danger, with 89% of missing fatalities being discovered later in canals, rivers, lakes or harbours.

Most of the cases in the report appeared to have been the result of an accident.

In the majority of cases the missing person had been intoxicated, mainly with alcohol but in some instances by taking drugs too.

Detective Superintendent Richard Kelvey, force lead for missing people, said: “Last winter, a number of families in Avon and Somerset were given the awful news their loved one had died following a night out in Bristol.

“This news followed weeks of anguish in which they did not know what had happened to their son or brother after they went missing.

“The University of Portsmouth study clearly identifies a link between young men going missing and coming to harm on nights out and I’d urge all those enjoying themselves this Christmas and New Year to look after each other.

“Please drink responsibly and make sure you and your friends get home safely. Don’t let them wander off and don’t leave any one behind.”

The study was led by Geoff Newiss, a visiting research fellow at the university’s Institute of Criminal Justice Studies, and Dr Ian Greatbatch, a visiting researcher at the university’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Mr Newiss said: “People really should take extra care in the winter, particularly while walking near water.

“This might be your normal route home, but people can become disorientated after consuming too much alcohol.

“Their judgement isn’t the same, particularly as some people drink perhaps more than they are used to at this time of year.

“Once you are in the water in winter, you have much less chance of surviving.”