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EDITORIAL: When Are Missing Persons Really Missing?

Thirty reports of missing persons a month are too high by normal standards. But that’s what has happened since January 1 in Fiji as Police try to find the time
07 Feb 2015 15:26
EDITORIAL: When Are Missing Persons Really Missing?

Thirty reports of missing persons a month are too high by normal standards. But that’s what has happened since January 1 in Fiji as Police try to find the time and the means to attend to these reports.

Now the Police have expressed serious concerns about this trend because it continues unabated.

Chief of Investigations and Intelligence ACP Henry Brown said cases were reported to them on a daily basis.

While it’s good news that the majority of reported missing persons are found safe, the concern is over public attitude towards the issue. Many of these reports could be classified petty and trivial. They could be avoided if people take the common sense approach.

Have relatives exhausted all avenues before going to the Police to lodge their reports?

Police experience show that many missing persons are found safe staying with either a relative or friend.

Relatives must, as a matter of course, check all possible contacts they know including people and places. After they have thoroughly checked them out and are convinced they have done everything possible, then they can go to the Police.

People need to understand that Police take every report lodged with them seriously. It’s the nature of the work they do. In their investigations they draw on all available Police resources. Some investigations take precedence over others because of their seriousness. Missing persons by its description falls into this category of seriousness. But Police seem frustrated because of the people’s lackadaisical attitude.

A child, a spouse or a partner runs away from home after a family row. In some cases, a member of the family just wanders off without telling the family.

Not long after that, a missing person report is lodged and people expect the police to discover the whereabouts of their relatives.

Strictly speaking, this is the basic responsibility of the families concerned.

In terms of children, parents need to play a proactive role. They should know where their children are at any time of the day. Proper communication system between them and children is essential.

As part of their responsibilities, parents should teach their children the importance of communication. All older members of the family should also be on the same page. Police have identified a serious lack of communication in families as one reason for the bulging missing person file.

ACP Brown, sums up the Police feelings in this statement: “What concerns us is that people tend to be complacent about the issue of communication and this needs to change.

“In almost all cases the missing person is either found staying with a relative or a friend and has failed to inform their family of their whereabouts and plans.

“Our main priority when a missing person report is lodged is to ensure they are located safe and returned home and this requires resources such as transport and manpower to physically check at places that the victim could be”.

It’s the latter part of this statement that highlights the reason for this concern.

The reality is that Police do not want to be turned into a Missing Persons Bureau. They simply do not have the resources to look for people who are free and not in danger in any way.

So the next time you want to report a missing person, ask yourself these questions: Have I done everything possible to locate the person? Have I checked at the likely places? Have I contacted all the people the person knows? Is the person really missing?

 

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj




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