New legislation to aid police in missing persons cases

By MorinvilleNews.com Staff

Edmonton – The government is proposing legislation it says will make it easier for police when searching for missing persons.

Bill 8: the Missing Persons Act would allow police agencies to obtain the personal information they need to help find missing persons in cases where the police have no reason to suspect a crime has been committed. Currently, information that could be vital to solving a missing person case is only available to investigators if they believe a crime has been committed. Under Bill 8, police would be able to obtain that information in any missing person case.

“The inability to access information where no crime is suspected can stall or halt missing persons investigations,” said Minister of Justice and Attorney General Verlyn Olson in a release Monday. “This Act will allow police to obtain the information they need to solve these cases before they go cold.”

The proposed legislation would require police to apply to the courts for information, including financial and cell phone records, and the legislation requires a balance with privacy rights throughout the course of the police investigation. Information collected under Bill 8 would be held confidential and could only be used in situations cited in the legislation. Records and information collected would have to be kept separate from other police agency records.

The proposed legislation is in response to a 2010 request by the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police to develop missing persons legislation. Alberta is the first jurisdiction in Canada to introduce legislation dedicated to assisting police with missing persons investigations.

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