The force spent 18,700 days of officer time trying to find children and adults who had disappeared in the 12 months to April, which commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson called “a startling statistic”.
Speaking at a meeting of the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel in Wakefield today, he said the size of the challenge was “pretty stark”.
Chief Constable Dee Collins added: “This is a huge, huge issue for us.”
About two-thirds of missing people are under 18 and more than a third of missing children are in care, the meeting heard.
Mr Burns-Williamson said he was concerned at the growing number of private children’s homes as well as those unregulated by inspectors Ofsted as they look after young people aged 16 and over.
He said police bosses were “trying to understand how these places were being managed”. He said predators were known to target young people living in children’s homes and the priority was “to try to prevent exploitation, whether it is sexual or potentially connected to modern slavery or county lines”.
Mr Burns-Williamson said West Yorkshire Police wanted more involvement in decisions about which homes young people were placed in.
The meeting also discussed rising levels of crime, particularly violent incidents and knife crime.
Meanwhile, victim satisfaction levels have continued to decline over the past few years, the meeting was told.
A quarter of victims of crime are now unsatisfied with the response they get from police, with panel members saying the impact of squeezed budgets was being felt across the country.