Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Questions (561)

John McGuinness

Question:

561. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Justice and Equality to set out the number of cases of missing persons that remain unresolved for five years and more; the action being taken to solve these cases; his views on establishing a special missing persons unit; if he will or is funding ongoing collaboration with other specialist units outside of Ireland to assist in the investigation of these cases; if there is a joint approach in place by the Garda and Health Service Executive to give ongoing assistance to those families traumatised by such an event; the actions taken to date by the Garda in the Jo Jo Dollard case; if he will confirm that the line of communication is ongoing with the family; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31722/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the total number of persons recorded missing for over five years, and who remain untraced, up to and including 28 June, 2013 is 603. It should be noted that this figure is provisional, operational and liable to change.

As I have previously advised the Deputy, all incidents where persons have been reported missing remain under investigation until such time as the person is located. An Garda Síochána reviews missing persons cases on a regular basis. The District Officer (Superintendent) in the area where a person has gone missing takes direct responsibility for all investigations and searches carried out. Local investigation teams are appointed by the District Officer, and all means necessary, including the services of specialist units, are deployed to assist in these investigations, as considered appropriate. The services of Interpol and Europol can also be availed of during such investigations, if necessary.

The Deputy will also be aware that the Garda Missing Persons Bureau, which is responsible for all data relating to missing persons, provides expert assistance and advice to District Officers in all high risk missing person cases. The Garda authorities are satisfied that adequate resources, including staff and technology, are in place to deal with this issue and investigations are carried out in line with international best practice.

A joint protocol is in place with the Health Service Executive (HSE) providing a strategic and uniform approach to the issue of children who are reported as missing from care, with the overall objective of reducing such incidents, preventing such children from suffering harm and returning them to safety as soon as possible.

I am informed that the case referred to by the Deputy remains under active investigation. I am, of course, conscious of the continuing distressing impact on family and friends when a person goes missing and am assured that Garda liaison is being maintained with the family concerned.