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Our aim is to improve existing guidelines and encourage cohesive collaborative & communication between all parties to preserve the life of the missing person.
Mistakes in the early days of a missing person's investigation impact the entire case. Too many long-term missing persons cases remain unsolved and over time become non-operational, compounding the agony of families suffering ambiguous loss. Such mishandling will result in more complaints being filed with Police Standards Departments (PSD) and Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
Young men especially continue to go under the radar and are classed as ‘lads being lads’. Families must be taken more seriously and if they tell police it is out of character, this should be acted upon and taken into consideration. Gathering evidence remains erratic between forces and invaluable time is being lost to secure CCTV and critical evidence.
We need to make a joint effort to ensure no stone is unturned and every piece of the puzzle is explored. Education about the dangers of drinking & drug use, especially near water is imperative. Greater awareness of social media safety for families, digital footprint and responsible use of appeals for the wider public also needs addressing.
I, hereby, petition the Prime Minister, RT Hon Boris Johnson MP and Home Secretary, Rt Hon Priti Patel MP to acknowledge the distress and anguish suffered by families and the wider community when someone disappears. I ask that the following recommendations to be formally known as ‘Missing Persons Support bill’ to be adopted:
- Consider funding for an independent Centre of Excellence for Missing Persons (COEMP) to unite professionals in assessment, specialist training, searches, investigation, forensics, and horizon scanning for new developments – with a dedicated unit for long-term missing cases. This would ensure that all ‘missing cases’ get equal attention and adequate/fair funding. Ongoing family support is needed for cold cases because regardless of status they are still grieving.
- Risks associated with missing after a night out (particularly young males) should be acknowledged by the police and other professionals. The response to these people should be reviewed, too many young males are found drowned. Nationwide campaigns must be implemented to encourage them to seek help with depression and mental health issues as suicide rates are at an all-time high.
- The concerns of families should be taken more seriously when a person is reported missing. A family member’s assertion that a missing episode is out of character should always be taken seriously and the risk assessment should be upgraded accordingly.
- Specialist training for police officers investigating missing persons, including training on risk assessment, should be updated to include an improved understanding of working with families reporting the missing person. They need to understand the psychological and emotional damage suffered by those left behind suffering from PTSD. Family live a life sentence of despair and grief, with no knowledge as to why is devastating but impossible to grieve.
- Some long-term missing person investigations receive significant police resources whereas others receive much less. All families should have the guarantee everything possible is being done. Greater transparency is needed about how & why police allocate resources to improve understanding about what resource is likely to be devoted to their missing loved one’s investigation.
- Unidentified human remains (complete & partial) must be regularly crosschecked with remains found across the UK and Europe. This must be done in a timely manner, keeping apace with advances in the DNA techniques/processes on par with the highly acclaimed services in Ireland.
- All school children should be taught about danger signs they need to be aware of in today’s climate of parental/stranger abduction and especially in regard to County Lines and the “Clever Never Goes” project.
My situation is not unique. I am a Community Ambassador for Missing People retaining a close unity with other families of long-term missing people. The charity is all we have and the job is massive and the funds are short for one organisation to be able to sustain the needs of the magnitude of the issue.
Please read more about Damien’s story and my journey into this world of the missing by visiting our website.
Twitter: @MisPerSupport #MissingPersonsSupport #DamiensLaw
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