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Why is this site needed?
Although many unidentified cases receive local or national publicity at the time they are found, this publicity may be short lived, and experience has shown that the families and friends of these people may not see or fail to recognise the significance of this initial publicity. There is a need to continually publicise these unidentified cases to maximise the possibility of families/friends who have lost contact with people, or reported them missing, seeing the details of the case and recognising the individual may be their missing relative/friend. The website also provides members of the public with a means by which to suggest possible identifications in a clear and simple manner through communication with the Bureau, the details of which can be initially reviewed without additional burden on police forces.
Has this been done before?
A similar UK website was previously maintained by the charity Missing People, however due to a reduction in resources this was removed in 2009.
In addition, British Transport Police (BTP) have already displayed images (forensic artists’ impressions) of 20 railway deaths as part of Operation Kharon, a joint initiative to obtain details of all outstanding unidentified people/remains. These images have been on BTP’s public facing internet site, as well as receiving significant media coverage at a press conference in August 2010.
There are currently three similar sites in the USA: The Doe Network, NamUs (US Department of Justice site) and a Colorado State website. Furthermore, European forces such as the Swiss and Belgian Police already have unidentified people/remains details shown on their websites in order to assist with the identification of their cases.
How will the website help families?
It will bring closure to families and friends if an individual is identified. It is hoped it will also empower the families of missing persons to feel they are playing an active part in searching for their loved ones.
How will the website help the police?
It provides a further tactical option in the quest to identify people. It will bring the same publicity and appeals for unidentified people as existing sites do for missing people.
How many unidentified people are found?
Each month we record around 15 unidentified body cases and we have approximately 1,000 cases on our database.
What do these statistics mean?
The statistics are only based on the cases featured on the website and do not give a full picture of the number of unidentified bodies, remains or alive persons found and identified in that force area. Some forces have chosen not to publicise cases on the website so their results will always show as '0' even though they will have unidentified records in their area. The 'Total closed cases' will only refer to unidentified bodies, remains or alive persons identified since being on the website, meaning that on the date of launch the figures will all be '0', this does not reflect the national picture of identifications made within force. Forces are only required to notifiy us of unidentified bodies, remains or alive persons if they remain outstanding for longer than 48 hours but if identification is made before the case appears on the website then it will not be included in these statistics.
Please see 'What cases are included?' for further details on what cases have been featured.