National bureau set up to trace missing people

THE FIRST national police missing persons bureau was launched yesterday, although it will be many years before it can be used to identify murder victims such as the nine bodies unearthed in Gloucester.

The database is expected to hold details of about 100,000 people a year. It will not, however, contain the names of anyone who has previously run away or disappeared - information that has been vital in naming several of the Cromwell Street victims.

Police forces throughout England and Wales will send details of missing people to the bureau, which is based in a small office at Scotland Yard.

Three civilians with an annual budget of pounds 90,000 for their computers will record 'vulnerable' missing people who have not been accounted for after 28 days - most people return home within 48 hours.

However, children, the elderly, sick or suicidal would be logged immediately.

Details recorded will include descriptions, clothing and any other identifying features. The bureau will also log tourists who disappear in the UK and Britons who vanish while travelling abroad.

The Metropolitan Police, which is running the scheme with the Home Office, expects to reunite or trace almost all the missing people reported. It estimates that only 1,600 will remain unidentified each year.

Lord Ferrers, a Home Office minister, yesterday tried to deflect criticism that the scheme had taken too long to set up. The Council of Europe recommended in 1979 that every member state should have a national missing persons bureau. Five years later, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) made a similar recommendation.

Until yesterday, the only central data bank had been held by a small charity, the Missing Persons Bureau, which has had to change its name to the National Missing Persons Helpline. The bureau holds records of about 250,000 people reported missing; at least 100,000 are under 18.

Lord Ferrers said: 'It is wrong to suggest that nothing has been done - the difficulty has been to find a location. It (a national bureau) was identified in 1989 by ACPO, but it could not be done overnight.'

He added: 'The bureau is a major step forward. If it helps to find people who are missing and helps to alleviate the deep devastation of those who have loved and lost, it will have served a useful and humane purpose.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner David Veness, of the Metropolitan Police, added that the database would not have any 'sinister' use and that no one who had run away would be forcibly reunited. 'It's here to help people,' he said.

The Scotland Yard database is expected to be placed on the much larger police national computer - PNC2 - due to come on stream within the next few years.

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam