Minister Ahern announces Missing Persons Study

 

Garda Inspectorate to consider Dedicated Unit


The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr Dermot Ahern TD, today announced that the Garda Inspectorate is to consider establishing a dedicated Missing Persons Unit, including a response network similar to 'Amber Alert' in the USA.

The Minister said: "The issue of asking the Garda Inspectorate to undertake a study along these lines has been pursued by me over the last number of weeks.  Discussions were held with the Garda Inspectorate and An Garda Síochána, particularly in relation to what the scope of the proposed study would be, and a terms of reference for the study was drawn up. This is in accordance with the commitment we made in the Programme for Government.

It is a traumatic event for anyone to have to report a loved one as missing. Having a missing loved one who is untraced causes unimaginable heartache for family and friends. We must do everything we can to locate missing persons and we must ensure that the systems in place are the best possible for dealing with such cases. 
 
Current Garda procedures for locating missing persons are generally in line with international practice. However, it can only be helpful to have a fresh examination of current practices in Ireland and developments internationally. I also want the Inspectorate to examine the potential role which a specific child alert mechanism – be it national or cross-border – could play in certain circumstances.

This Government has shown that it is committed to the protection of children and I welcome any initiatives that may help to keep our children safe. I am committed to making Ireland a safer place to live in and I am committed to improving the situation for victims of crime.  I look forward to the Inspectorate’s report and I will consider any proposals which will help the Gardaí in their handling of missing persons reports and which will prevent people from becoming victims of crime."


15 July 2008

Note for Editors

Terms of Reference

In accordance with section 117 of the Garda Síochána Acts 2005 to 2007, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform hereby requests the Garda Síochána Inspectorate to advise on the need to establish a dedicated Missing Persons Unit within An Garda Síochána, and a response network similar to 'Amber Alert' in the USA.

The inspection and report shall include an examination of:

  • the current practice in Ireland regarding missing persons;
  • alert systems operating in other countries – including Amber Alert in the USA -  and how effective such systems would be in an Irish context;
  • the use of existing international mechanisms in place to assist in tracing missing persons, such as Europol, Interpol and the Schengen Information System (SIS), and having regard to the EU proposal currently being considered; and
  • whether specific arrangements are needed to deal with missing children or with specific categories of such children.

The report should recommend any changes which are considered necessary to bring the system in Ireland into line with best international standards.