Missing: the point?

Howard Lake | 3 November 1998 | News

Last month UK Fundraising welcomed the partnership between search engine Lycos and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The Web might, on the other hand, not be a sensible tool to use to locate missing people. The privacy of the missing person could be infringed, and quite often the story of the family searching for the missing individual is only one side of the issue.

In a letter to The Independent, Colin Fairclough, Director of the Salvation Army’s Family Tracing Service, suggested that the Web was not an appropriate medium for two important reasons. First, since 98% of all people reported missing are located within 72 hours, missing person reports on the World Wide Web would very likely be out of date. Secondly, publishing information on missing and possible vulnerable people could put them at risk. “The idea of publicising vulnerable people on a website fills me with unease” said Fairclough. “Not all surfers of the web are good Samaritans.” The Salvation Army never uses media publicity to search for missing people because such publicity could cause embarrassment or distress, or even be dangerous for the person being sought. Nevertheless, the Salvation Army still trace 10 people every working day.

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