Some parents fail to immediately report a missing child

A boy with a ball
A boy with a ball (Photo credit: Bailey Torres)

Superintendent Kirk Ricketts, from the St Andrew South Police Station, advised that when someone reports a missing child, the police should start to search immediately. Previously, there was a wait of 24 hours before filing a report. The process involves the taking of a statement detailing as much information as possible including the main physical features and a photo of the child. A form is required to be filled out and the station assigns an investigator to the case. Ricketts went to say the immediacy to search for a missing person applies to everybody.

He said the missing persons’ policy mandates that whenever someone goes missing, a missing person’s report should be filed immediately. Filing missing persons’ reports is not a tedious task and it does not take much effort. Some people are found more quickly than others, and some people are never found.

The investigator begins with a risk assessment; this is when the police judges a case based on the age of the person missing. The younger the person, the higher the risk. If it’s a normal thing for the person to be away at that time, the police will not urgently address the matter. Ricketts noted, ‘if a five-year-old has been missing from morning, the police will start an investigation right away, as a five-year-old cannot travel far, this case is of a high risk’. Ricketts went on to say further, ‘A teenager who has left school but hasn’t reached home as yet, is not as high a risk as the case of the five-year-old as a teenager might have stopped at a friend’s house’. The risk assessment involves the probability of the person potentially being in danger or immediate harm.



The police also have to include a communication to media outlets to inform them about the missing persons. Residents of the community from which the person goes missing can help in conducting searches as this will heighten the probability of the person being found quicker. The police have over a thousand cases to investigate and in addition to that Ricketts shared that the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) does not have the appropriate resources to conduct a full-on investigation.

Based on a report from the Corporate Communications Unit, the media arm of the JCF, 540 children went missing since the beginning of the year: 57 males and 270 females, a total of 327 returned home.

In 2020, 1,068 children went missing: 161 males and 707 females, a total of 868 were returned home. In 2019, 1,550 children went missing: 357 males and 1,193 females, a total of 1,228 children were returned home. In 2018, 1514 children went missing: 351 males and 1163 females, a total of 1368 children were returned home. In 2017, 1,674 children went missing: 362 males and 1,312 females, a total of 1,482 children were returned home.

The statistics show that more females went missing over the last five years than males. Ricketts emphasized that as soon as you realize that your child is missing report it immediately.

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