Going national with our missing persons
5:00am Tuesday 29th July 2014 in By Dominic Gilbert
MISSING people from Swindon could soon be part of a national register as part of an initiative from Wiltshire Chief Constable Pat Geenty.
Of the 14 people currently missing from Wiltshire, 10 are from the Swindon area, seven of whom have not been seen or heard from for more than a year.
The plans for the new national register are now going through the planning process and is hoped to be active by the end of this year.
Chief Constable Geenty is also the national lead for missing people, and has been pushing for the national database to be available for all forces for the last six months.
Insp Roger Bull, staff officer for the missing persons lead with Wiltshire Police, said the scheme would help different forces access information on missing people from different area more effectively, which could be crucial following initial reports.
“This is all about improving safeguarding, in particular for children and vulnerable adults,” he said. “This way we can transfer information between forces more effectively. It is very much a mobile society these days.
“People travel around the country and have friends and family spread around. Some of them will have moved due to the circumstances in their lives.
“Nationwide appeals are very rare, and if it involves a child at significant risk there is a process in place called the child rescue alert, where if necessary the media and social media can be used to spread information very quickly.
“This scheme would allow all forces to access similar information instantly.”
Many missing people have been absent for some time, with short-term investigations often being resolved positively.
“There are currently 14 missing people in Wiltshire, and of those 11 have been missing for more than 12 months,” added Insp Bull. “Of those missing for more than a year, seven are from the Swindon area. Of the other four ongoing investigations, three are from Swindon.
“For some people, going missing can be a personal choice. There are push and pull factors, either something external pulling them away from their home or something pushing them away.”
The Association of Chief Police Officers are currently considering the proposals before they can be enforced.
“It is currently going through the various national committees within the police service and it is progressing well,” said Insp Bull. “It has to pass through scrutiny with the Association of Chief Police Officers. It will enable us to have a complete overview of what the national picture is without having to go to individual police forces to find out all the relevant data. That will enable us to look at national strategies and direct research.
“It is a matter of months before we will arrive at a decision, so we hope to have the scheme in place by the end of the year.”
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