Elgin-Middlesex-London, July 25, 2019 - When a loved one goes missing, swift action
is critical. That's why the Ontario Government is putting people's safety first
by providing frontline police officers in Elgin-Middlesex-London with more tools
to respond quickly to missing persons investigations.
"Police and family members tell us that the first hours after someone goes missing
are the most critical," said Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General. "That's why we're
providing our frontline heroes with more tools to find our loved ones."
The Missing Persons Act, proclaimed by the government on July 1, 2019, provides
police with three additional tools to use when there is no evidence a crime has
been committed. These will allow police to:
- Obtain copies of records that may assist in a search;
- Obtain a court order to allow entry into a premises to search for a missing person;
- Make an urgent demand for records without a court order in certain urgent circumstances.
The act sets out tests to obtain court authorization for access to records or search
warrants, and to execute urgent demands for records. It requires police and the
courts to consider privacy issues and whether there is evidence that the person
does not wish to be located. The act also includes guidelines on what information
police may disclose about a missing person before and after they have been located.
"Aylmer Police Service supports the new legislation which will assist officers in
accessing resources and information that is critical in the investigation and ultimately
successful reunion of the missing person with their families," said Chief Zvonko
Horvat. "With quicker access to additional information, the officers will have the
necessary tools to add to their investigative techniques while still balancing the
concerns of any privacy issues."
Previously, when a person went missing without evidence of criminal activity, police
were limited in the ways they could investigate. This legislation allows police
to respond to missing persons investigations rapidly, while balancing concerns for
an individual's privacy.
"Ensuring the safety and security of the people is our government's most fundamental
responsibility," said MPP Jeff Yurek. "We are committed to ensuring that police
in Elgin-Middlesex-London and across Ontario have what they need to protect the
public and put justice for victims and the centre of everything they do."
- To ensure transparency and accountability, the act sets out a requirement for chiefs
of police and the Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police to report annually
on the use of urgent demands for records by members of the police service.
- A mandated five-year review of the legislation is required.
- There is no requirement to wait 24 hours to report someone missing in Ontario.
- Nearly 7,500 people were reported missing in Ontario in 2018.