(26 December) The Royal Thai Police (RTP) have promised to improve the process of handling missing person cases, such as establishing a task force dedicated to solve such cases.
The move came after Mirror Foundation, a charity focused on finding missing children, proposed 7 steps to improve the police operation in the wake of the infamous kidnapping and murder of a 6-year-old girl in Bangkok earlier this month.
Nong Cartoon, who was reported missing on 6 December, is now feared dead after police uncovered traces of her belonging at a secluded spot neat Bearing BTS Station. A suspect was later arrested and confessed that he had raped and murdered the girl.
In the proposal submitted to the Royal Thai Police, the Mirror Foundation suggested that the police should:
– Establish a task force specifically dedicated for search operation of missing children and kidnapped children.
– Accept all notification for missing children, as well as elderly people, without having to wait for 24 hours as required in the (now-defunct) police guideline, in order to investigate and follow the progress continuously on real-time basis.
– Provide an informative publication about the pattern of the criminals who are known to kidnap children and how they conduct such crime.
– In short term, establish a workshop group to handle missing person cases in each of the RTP unit to coordinate closely with Prachabodi Centre of the Ministry of Social Development and human Security (MSDHS)
– Consider establishing a Missing Person Centre to oversee the issue systematically.
– Broadcast the missing children′s pictures on state-owned media to help the public recognise their features.
– Re-assess the practice procedure of the RTP and enforce laws regarding the search of missing person effectively.
Mr. Ekkalak Lumchomkhae, Director of Missing Person Centre, which operates under the Mirror Foundation, said in a meeting with the Royal Thai Police representatives on Wednesday that the issue about missing person must be handed urgently because they occur frequently.
The incidents also involves child abduction, in which most cases child are sexually abused and killed, Mr. Ekkalak said.
“We do not want to see cases like Nong Cartoon to happen again. Considering the period of the investigation after her disappearance, it takes about one week. That is too late, and when they [the police] found her she is already dead”, said Mr. Ekkalak.
Accompanying Mr. Ekkanat at the meeting was Mr. Kamon Thongchum, a father of a 11-year-old missing child, Nong Jee-Jee, who went missing from a petrol station in Kaengkhoi district, Saraburi province on 18 September 2010.
Mr. Kamon stated his firm agreement with Mirror Foundation′s proposals and criticised the police for their management of the crimes.
Comparing his daughter’s disappearance with car thief, Mr. Kamon said that the owner of the car can contact 1192 hotline as soon as they realise their car was missing and the police would acknowledge the case less than 2 minutes after the car was stolen.
However, in terms of a missing person case, families are allowed to submit their notification to the police only after 24 hours have passed, Mr. Kamon complained.
“Why does the case of missing person has to wait 24 hours? If the victims are with the criminal, they would likely have been dead already. Does it mean that people are worth less than a car?”, said Mr. Kamon.
Pol.Gen. Jaramphon Suramanee, representing the Royal Thai Police, said he agreed with the proposals submitted by the Mirror Foundation.
According to Pol.Gen.Jaramphon, the police has recently established a centre for missing persons and discovery of anonymous bodies, which could be accessed online via http://missingperson.police.go.th.
Nevertheless, the officer said further improvement is on the way, as the police are trying to build a network with other related institutions.
He also promised to improve the centre hotline, 1599, to create trusts among the public, and ask for participation from every related agency.
Pol.Gen. Jaramphon added that the police would officially dismiss its requirement to wait 24 hours before acknowledging cases of missing persons.
The police are also working on the mobile application “Missing Person” to serve as a central means to look for missing persons, said Pol.Gen.Jaramphon.