1,700 persons missing
- 16,729 persons have gone missing since January 1, 2010.
- 14,628 persons who went missing since January 1, 2010, have been found.
- 339 elderly people have gone missing since January 1, 2010.
- Nearly 1,700 Jamaicans who went missing within the last six years have not been found.
According to police data, more than 16,700 people have gone missing since January 1, 2010, of which 14,628 who have been found.
Terrence McLean, head of the Missing Persons Unit in the Jamaica Constabulary Force, said some of the missing people could be victims of human trafficking.
"We have no proof of that. There are speculations they don't want to be found," McLean said.
He admitted that many persons who show up in the police database may be victims of crime, noting that, "they may have been killed, buried or disposed of in some ways."
McLean believes the police has done a good job in helping to track down missing people but said residents need to play a greater role in the process.
"We need family members to assist. A lot of people who have knowledge of situations. You have family members who may think they are at fault if a child disappears. We are concerned when children go missing but we have an idea why it happens sometimes," the inspector said.
He reasoned that sexual encounters, peer pressure and the need to rebel are often reasons children run away from home.
In the case of adults, their disappearance is often a cause for concern.
"We are always concerned when children go missing but, the adults, we are always looking to possible crime why that individual might go missing," McLean said.
The investigator said that as part of the search for missing people, the police take steps to ensure victims are not smuggled out the island.
"Our borders are covered. When they go missing we have to do watch-listing to make sure that they don't try to leave the island. It is possible for them to leave under different identity but that's another case. But if they are using their correct names, they would not be able to just get up and go," he said.
Police statistics indicate that some 339 elderly people have gone missing since January 1, 2010. McLean said the search for them is often depressing.
"Sometimes we have to be going to morgues to check if they were deceased without identity," he said.
"You have family members who would ignore dead relatives if it is going to cost them to come forward."