Police given new tools to aid in finding people who go missing.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 8th, 2019



There is a fine Detective Constable in the Halton Regional Police Service who will have become aware of new tools that are now available to police forces in the province.

They allow the police toget more information quickly sothat every effort can be made to find the person who has wandered away from home.

Each day that Detective Constable Joe Barr drives to or from work he is reminded of the case of Helen Robertson who went missing July 5th, 2016.

She was never found. There were bits and pieces of evidence but nothing that gave police the information they needed to successfully find Helen and return her home.

With more than 240,000 Ontario seniors estimated to be living with some form of dementia today, being able to locate seniors in the first 24 hours after they go missing is crucial to saving lives.

Ontario is putting the safety of seniors first by providing police officers with more tools they need to respond quickly and effectively to missing persons investigations.

“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 front-line services new tools to help find our missing loved ones faster,” said Raymond Cho, 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, proclaimed by the government on July 1, 2019, 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 a premise to locate a missing person; and
• Make an urgent demand for certain records without a court order.

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. With this legislation, police can now respond to missing persons investigations quicker, while balancing concerns for an individual’s privacy.
“Police and family members tell us that the first hours after someone goes missing are the most critical,” said Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General. “That’s why we’re providing our frontline heroes with more tools to quickly find our loved ones.”

Fifty per cent of those who go missing for 24 hours or more risk serious injury or even death.
Sixty per cent of people living with dementia will go missing at some point, often without warning.
There is no requirement to wait 24 hours to report someone missing in Ontario.
Nearly 7,500 people were reported missing in Ontario in 2018.

Most of the media in the western GTA are quick to publish and broadcast information on a missing person. Most of the time they are found before the end of the day or the day after.

Some are never found – and we mourn, terrified that something like this could happen to our loved ones.

Joseph Barr, the Detective that handled the Helen Robertson case knows that he will wonder for the rest of his career what happened and what was that missing piece of information he didn’t have.

Lifesaver - wrist band

Emits a signal every second 24/7

Since the disappearance of Helen Robertson the Regional Police came up with a service that, if used properly, can be critical in finding someone missing.  Project Life Saver was taken to the Regional Police by a parent who has an autistic child.  That service is now available to parents in Halton Region.  Details in the story linked below.

Related news stories:

Helen Robertson reported missing.

Wallet belonging to missing woman found – nothing else.

Project Life Saver.


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