When a Brampton resident goes missing, police need to work quickly for their safe return. Now, police are getting new tools to help find missing people as fast as possible.
According to information provided by the provincial government, more than 240,000 Ontario seniors estimated to be living with some form of dementia today. Sixty per cent of people living with dementia will go missing at some point, often without warning.
“Peel Regional Police receive more than 2,000 missing person reports every year,” said Chief Chris McCord, Peel Regional Police. “The government’s changes to the Missing Persons Act will provide officers with additional tools to assist in investigations and bolster our ability to locate missing loved ones in a timely fashion.”
Being able to locate people in the first 24 hours after they go missing is crucial to saving lives. The government says fifty per cent of those who go missing for 24 hours or more risk severe injury or even death.
“Every minute counts when a senior goes missing to help keep them safe. This is another example of how our government is putting seniors and their families first by providing essential frontline services new tools to help find our missing loved ones faster,” said Raymond Cho, the Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. “We are protecting what matters most to help seniors live independently in their communities, while also helping to ensure they are safe.”
The Missing Persons Act, which was proclaimed by the government on July 1, provides police with three additional tools to use when there is no evidence a crime has been committed.
These tools will allow police to:
- Obtain copies of records that may assist in a search.
- Obtain a search warrant to enter premises to locate a missing person.
- Make an urgent demand for individual records without a court order.
The act sets out tests to obtain court authorization for access to records or search warrants, and to execute urgent demands for records. It requires police and the courts to consider privacy issues and whether there is evidence that the person does not wish to be located.
The Act also includes guidelines on what information police may disclose about a missing person before and after they have been located.
Previously, when a person went missing without evidence of criminal activity, police were limited in the ways they could investigate.
The government hopes that with the new legislation, police will be able to respond to missing persons investigations quicker while balancing concerns for an individual’s privacy.
It should also be noted that there is no requirement to wait 24 hours to report someone missing in Ontario. Last year Nearly 7,500 people were reported missing in Ontario.
What do you think of these new tools police can use to find missing seniors?