ROTARY and MISSING PERSONS TRAGEDIES
Photo: Roger and Stuart at the VicPol Mentoring Program graduation.
Nationally, more than 35,000 people go missing each year, and though most are soon re-located, more than 1600 remain on the missing-person list.
Links on the VicPol site take inquirers to more details about missing individuals, support services, Crime Stoppers and advice. The site also meshes with Facebook and Twitter.
The initiative arose from Detective Senior Sergeant Stuart Bailey of the homicide squad during his mentorship by Rotary Central Melbourne’s Roger Thornton under the multi-district Police Leadership Program.
The Inspectors and Senior Sergeants are required to organise a community engagement initiative. Roger encouraged Stuart through the management, coordination and IT aspects, and assured Stuart that Rotary would promote public access to the website, including by people without much computer experience. District 9800 Governor Neville John will alert all presidents in D9800 and in other Victorian Districts to the VicPol site.
The new site depicts a dozen missing people, ranging from a 12yo boy who disappeared from Avoca in 1975 to a 21yo university student who disappeared along with his VW Golf last April near Healesville.
The site has involved complex issues for the police as they have on-going investigations about some missing people. Federal police and NZ have had success with equivalent sites ;
Stuart Bailey hopes the VicPol site will help get leads from the public on both current and cold-case investigations. “Rotarians have a wide support base and we’d like them to publicise the site widely,” he says. “We’d like every Rotary club to highlight this site in some way. At best, we might relocate someone, or at least enable loved ones to find some peace rather than never-ending uncertainty."
“All cases involve terrible anxiety for their loved ones, whether the case involves a crime victim or merely domestic issues. No matter how baffling a disappearance seems, there is always someone out there whose information about the person could be helpful to us.”
Nationally, Homelessness Week and Missing Persons Week coincided in early August this year as there are so many common factors.