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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Every piece of information counts

It doesn’t matter how small or minute what you know may be, you could just be holding a piece of information that can lead to a breakthrough; so please share it.

That’s the message from ACT Policing this year for Missing Persons Week, held 4-10 August.

When a person goes missing, it is important to give police all the facts and circumstances related to their disappearance, including any search efforts already made by you and others.

Relevant information may include intimate or private details regarding the missing person or their lifestyle.

ACT Policing Detective Superintendent Jamey Bellicanta says every piece of information matters; and to let the police decide what it means for the investigation.

“These investigations may have been undertaken for a week or two, or maybe even 15 years.

“Police are privy to an enormous amount of information on occasions, and we’re reliant on one or two remaining pieces of information or evidence to progress that investigation.

“People may not realise that snippet of information, the hearsay information they’ve been privy to through third hand, may well be that tiny bit of information we’ve been waiting on.

“I can’t impress anymore that any information that people have is so, so important,” he says.

This year, as part of the multi-faceted campaign for Missing Persons Week, National Missing Persons Coordination Centre and ACT Policing partnered with Capital Chilled Foods Australia to feature 12 missing people on their one-litre Canberra Milk full cream bottles for six weeks.

ACT Policing Detective Superintendent Jamey Bellicanta says every piece of information matters, and to let the police decide what it means for the investigation. Photo: Kerrie Brewer.

ACT Chief Police Officer Ray Johnson says it’s important for ACT Policing to raise awareness of this issue of long-term missing people, and how Canberrans are their eyes and ears.

“There are families who have been waiting, in some cases for decades, for news about their loved ones. This new campaign is one more tool that may provide vital information to investigators in each of these 12 cases,” he says.

Alongside the milk carton campaign, ACT Policing are also doing a number of activities to raise awareness in the community for Missing Persons Week this year.

“We will have the ACT Missing Persons displayed in many places including ACT Libraries, Canberra Airport, Transport Canberra buses, Dickson shops, the AIS Visitor Centre and stalls within the community,” says Detective Superintendent Bellicanta.

The point of the multi-faceted campaign is to distribute the names and faces of these missing people as broadly as possible, with the hope of reaching people who may not otherwise see it.

Over the years, the rise and proliferation of technology and social media has made it easier for ACT Policing to reach a wider audience.

Detective Superintendent Bellicanta says he’s always astonished by how quickly the Canberra community will share and spread a social media posting about a missing person within their own community.

In 2018, ACT Policing received 683 reports of missing persons and were successful in locating each one. As of 30 June 2019, there were 421 reports for the year so far.

The majority of people reported missing to police are located within a short period of time, usually within a week.

There are currently 14 long-term missing people in the ACT, including two missing overseas.

Nationally, there are more than 2,600 long-term missing persons. A long-term missing person is defined as someone who has been missing for more than three months.

The more detail provided to police, the sooner police are able to follow up leads, the more likely the person will be found safe and well.

A positive response which is resolved quickly works not only in the favour of police, but helps alleviate the stress and trauma for a missing person’s relatives and friends.

More information: police.act.gov.au/crime/missing-persons

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