National Crime Agency
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First anniversary of Missing Persons Website
The UK Missing Persons Bureau website, the first of its kind in the UK, is dedicated to uncovering the mystery behind the unidentified persons found across the country. By publishing detail of cases the site aims to provide peace and resolution to the family and friends of missing persons.
Contained within the database of approximately 1,000 cases, some of which have remained unsolved for up to 70 years, are details including distinguishing features, clothing, jewellery and photographs (where appropriate). The hope is that someone out there will recognise who they belong to and finally provide an identity for the individual.
The public response to the website has been overwhelmingly positive during the past year. Sherri Latham, Tactical Analyst with the Missing Persons Bureau says: 'We developed the site in consultation with the families of missing persons to ensure we were dealing with the subject matter in a thoughtful and sensitive way, but we still had concerns before launch about the public response to such an emotive area of work. These turned out to be unfounded as people embraced what we were doing and really understood and supported the true purpose of the site. The number of visitors to the site over the past year has been much higher than we could have predicted which demonstrates the commitment of the public in helping us to identify these people.
There have been three confirmed resolutions made through the website:
The Bureau heard from a member of the public who believed an unidentified female found in Essex could be their Aunt. Although the lady had not been reported missing, the bureau worked with Essex Police to obtain fingerprints for the aunt and compare to those held on file for the unidentified lady. The prints confirmed a match, to the gratitude of the family who found some answers in the search for their loved one.
The Bureau received a phone call from a member of the public suggesting that one of the cases featured on the website could be his brother who was last seen in 1994. There were a number of similarities in the descriptive information and a subsequent fingerprint match confirmed that they were the same person.
A message received via the website stated that a lady believed one of the cases could be her father. The information supplied appeared to indicate a likely match so further enquiries were carried out by the Bureau in collaboration with the Metropolitan Police. Through open source investigation and interrogation of police databases the death certificate for the lady's father was located, so whilst it was not a match, the bureau was able to find some peace and resolution for the individual who now knows what has happened to their father.
A fourth case is still in the process of being confirmed, but indications are positive that a positive match will be forthcoming.
Joe Apps, Bureau Manager: 'We are really pleased with the number of cases resolved through the site. Whilst it might not initially appear to be a high number, it has to be remembered that these are people who have lain unidentified for almost 20 years, and would have continued to do so without the work done by the Bureau. These are three families who now know what happened to their loved ones and the importance of bringing them some kind of peace cannot be underestimated.'
A lot of the cases featured on the site are classified as 'cold cases' as there is limited information and forensic material available upon which to conduct further investigation. Joe Apps went on to explain: 'These cases can be very difficult to progress. We have had a number of other names and suggestions supplied by the public, a number of which appear to be very positive leads, however the process to confirm an identity is not quick. The Bureau continues to liaise very closely with families, police and Coroner's to support this process and ensure that some resolution is found. The Bureau has been through a number of changes in the past year including our transition to the National Crime Agency; however our commitment to identifying these persons and bringing peace to families remains unchanged. We believe that being part of the National Crime Agency will enable better information sharing and access to resources that will help the Bureau provide even more support and guidance to forces in both missing and unidentified person cases.'
Detail on unidentified cases can be found on the Missing Persons Bureau website, as well as support and guidance for families should a loved one go missing.