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Police urged to tackle issue of missing persons

ON AVERAGE, three people are reported missing every day in Thailand, and two of them are children. Backed with such statistics, the Mirror Foundation and its supporters yesterday called on police to do more to address the problem.

"Serious efforts must be made to provide tangible solutions. The National Police Office can start by setting up a task force to handle reports directly on missing children and to conduct efficient and thorough investigations based on such reports," the foundation's Ekaluck Lhumchomkhae said yesterday.

He was speaking as he arrived at the National Police Office.

He also submitted a list of more than 28,000 people who agreed with the foundation's call for the establishment of a government-run Centre to Locate Missing Persons. Manee Thongchum, whose daughter went missing in 2011, said her child might still be by her side today had police started efforts to find the girl immediately.

"As soon as I found out that my daughter was missing, I alerted police. But police told me they could not do anything because any investigation would start only after the girl had been missing for at least 24 hours," the distraught mother said.

Ekaluck also attacked the widespread police practice of not acting on missing-persons reports until the subject of the report had been missing for 24 hours.

"Please don't wait. Please adjust your attitudes," he said.

He also encouraged police to provide guidelines about how parents could minimise the risk of losing their children to kidnappers.

Pol General Jarumporn Suramanee, an adviser (Level 10) at the National Police Office, met with Ekaluck yesterday.

"There's no regulation that bars police from accepting reports of missing persons even though said persons may have been missing for less than 24 hours," he said, "We have already notified all police stations about this."

Jarumporn assured Ekaluck that the National Police Office worked diligently when handling reports of missing persons.

"We have summoned investigators to follow up on pending cases every now and then," he said.

Jarumporn added that the National Police Office also had a centre for handling reports on missing persons and discoveries of unidentified dead people.

"Now, we are in the process of seeking additional funds for the centre so that it can function more efficiently. For example, we plan to develop a [software] application featuring photos and information on the missing persons," he said.

He was confident that the app would allow police and members of the public to locate missing persons quickly.




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