The Regina Police Service has investigated numerous reports, in recent weeks, of missing children and young persons. Each and every time a child is reported missing the Regina Police Service will actively investigate and, where necessary, notify the public in order to enlist the community’s help in locating the child. Officers are dispatched immediately in any case involving a child 12 years old or younger. The Regina Police Service asks for the continued co-operation and support of the public in these matters.
Since January 1st, the Regina Police Service has received over 600 reports of missing persons, both adults and children. As of July 4, 2013, all but a handful* of these cases are cleared and non-criminal (a few are unfounded). Often, when people hear the word “missing” they attach it to some criminal act like an abduction but the fact is that most cases where someone is reported missing, involve a person leaving home by choice. In some cases, there is simply a miscommunication between family members or caregivers. Most reports of missing persons are concluded within hours and, in cases involving a young person, the child is returned safely to his or her home. These cases are resolved quickly, thanks to the diligence of the investigating officers and the assistance of the public and media.
For an adult, the act of leaving home and having no further contact with family and friends is not, in and of itself, a criminal offence. Similarly, in the case of a child under the age of 16 who is missing from home, there is no criminal offence but police are compelled to find that child, even if he or she appears to be unwilling to go home or insists that he or she is okay. Children are vulnerable because of their age and inexperience and can become victims if they come into contact with persons who would harm or exploit a child. Officers will always ask questions to determine why the child ran away, to ensure that the child is not running because he or she is already a victim of a criminal offence.
Some members of the media and the public have asked if it is unusual to have so many children reported missing; it is not. In our experience, when Spring arrives and the weather improves, the number of cases increase where young people leave their homes without permission and choose not to have contact with their families or caregivers. It may simply be that warmer temperatures make “running away” a little less complicated. It may be the allure of summer events like Canada Day celebrations or the Queen City Ex, or simply not having to get up to attend school each day. Whatever the reason, the Regina Police Service asks for the continued patience and concern of the general public. Even when there are so many cases of young people simply choosing to leave home, stay out and even actively avoiding efforts to find them; police and the community cannot become complacent. Whether missing because of some mishap, missing-by-choice or even hiding, it is always our priority to assess, investigate and locate the missing person. The public is a critical resource; when a child is missing from home, thousands of pairs of eyes and ears in the community are invaluable.
The Regina Police Service thanks the media and the public for their continued support on this issue.
* Regina Police Service records indicate that, as of July 4, 2013, there are 28 missing person files classified as “not cleared – continuing”. This includes all historical missing person cases. In 2013, up to July 4th, there are 15 cases unresolved (one from March, nine from June 23 – 29, and five from June 30 – July 4.)