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Last Updated: Friday, 14 May, 2004, 06:25 GMT 07:25 UK
Missing person register 'updated'
Chief constable Hugh Orde
Hugh Orde is to address the Police Liaison Conference
Police methods of dealing with the issue of missing persons in Northern Ireland are to be updated, the chief constable has said.

Hugh Orde is due to open a Police Liaison Officers conference on Friday.

He is expected to tell delegates of plans for officers in the province to begin using an electronic form to register missing persons.

The conference will discuss how police and other agencies deal with the issue of missing persons.

More than 130 delegates from across the UK and Ireland are attending the conference which is being held in Belfast for the first time.

It has been organised jointly by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the National Missing Persons Helpline, the Irish Republic's police force - the Garda Siochana, and Centrex, the central police training and development body.

We should never allow ourselves to forget the human side of these investigations
Hugh Orde
Chief Constable

Delegates will also be told that the PSNI has signed a joint protocol with the National Missing Persons Helpline to improve the exchange of information.

Speaking ahead of the conference, Mr Orde said: "The work of this conference will focus on the formal, professional aspects of dealing with missing persons cases.

"That is only right and proper. But I am confident there are additional benefits to be gained.

"We should never allow ourselves to forget the human side of these investigations. In the final analysis, it is the people involved that count."

Every year, it is estimated that about 210,000 people are reported missing in the UK.

There are currently 46 individuals registered as missing with the police in Northern Ireland.

Friday's conference will include a range of presentations designed to ensure police employ best practice from around the world when dealing with missing person cases.

The conference will be an excellent opportunity to debate and discuss the improvements to the services offered to the families and carers of missing persons
Mary Asprey
National Missing Persons Helpline

Issues such as human trafficking, investigative strategies, family liaison and children who go missing from care will also be discussed.

Detective Superintendent Andrew Bailey, from the PSNI criminal justice department, said delegates could learn a lot from the conference.

"We have designed an agenda which we hope in the first instance will enhance the way in which police in the UK and Ireland deal with missing persons cases so that ultimately there is less uncertainty and suffering for the individuals and families directly involved," he said.

"Further evidence of our commitment to this issue can be seen in the joint protocol the PSNI has just signed with the National Missing Persons Helpline to ensure we tackle this problem together in the most professional and sensitive way."

The co-founder of the National Missing Persons Helpline, Mary Asprey, said it was particularly encouraging to have the Gardai involved in the conference.

"The conference will be an excellent opportunity to debate and discuss the improvements to the services offered to the families and carers of missing persons," she said.

The head of operational support at Centrex, Anne Harrison, said it was vital all those involved in dealing with such a sensitive issue adopted an effective and co-ordinated approach.

"Centrex aims to provide that fundamental link between police services other agencies and non-governmental organisations," she said.


WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC NI's Maryann Maguire:
"Delegates will also be told that the PSNI has signed a joint protocol with the National Missing Persons Helpline"



SEE ALSO:
Website to trace missing people
15 May 01  |  Northern Ireland
Police launch missing persons website
05 Feb 01  |  Northern Ireland
A decade of searching
01 Jul 02  |  UK News


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