Missing Person? Vital Steps To Take When a Loved One Goes Missing in Kenya
When a loved one goes missing, great emotional turmoil and intense ambiguity descends. No one is ever prepared for the nightmare of someone you love going missing.
On investigative TV shows, police paint a picture of efficiency in finding missing persons- Dead or alive. But the reality in Kenya is very grim going by the cold cases Kenya Human Rights Commission is handling.
Unfortunately, there is no handbook on what do to and how to emotionally handle the initial shock or help maintain the energy needed to find a loved one who has mysteriously vanished. And let’s be honest, our law enforcement authorities aren’t exactly the most helpful.
However, there are some steps you can take:
File a missing persons report at your nearest police station. Filing a police report ensures local law enforcement are informed on the disappearance and can assess the situation to determine if the person may be in danger and if an investigation needs to be conducted.
It is advised that you report a missing adult after 24 hours since they were last seen. Children are reported missing after 12 hours.
What kind of data do the police require when a case is reported?
- A clear and recent picture of missing person
- Name (including nicknames) of the missing person
- Age and gender of missing person
- Occupation of missing person
- When, where & who they were last seen with
- Any distinguishing marks such as birthmarks and scars
The police will then send the report to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI)who will pick up the case. In situations where the missing person is a phone user, DCI officers have a gadget that can tell the location of the last user of the SIM card.
This information is believed to assist them in tracking down people who may have leads on the missing person. An official request must be made by the missing person’s family first. Then, the DCI, asks the mobile phone operator to release data to aide the investigation.
*Disclaimer: This process can be agonizingly long
Contact Family, Friends and Coworkers
Sometimes, a missing person can be found by contacting family, friends or coworkers.
Even after making a missing person report to police, be sure to reach out to others to find out if they saw the individual or if they have information on where the person may have gone. Life can get hectic and simple miscommunication can contribute to a person going off radar for extended periods of time. Make sure you cover all your bases by calling or texting friends to find out if they have heard from the missing person. Don’t panic (I know it’s easier said than done).
Use Social Networks
The internet, with all it’s pitfalls, is a great tool to help track missing persons. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp Viber and others can be instrumental for searching for a missing loved one, especially if they are not found immediately. With any missing person case, it is important to maintain awareness and keep the public engaged in the search.
Look through the missing person’s recent social media posts for any information about their plans and even their state of mind. Look to see if they received any harassment or strange communications from others.
Contact their social media followers and ask if they have heard from or seen the missing person. It is important to provide any pertinent information you receive from others to the police.
Start a hashtag on twitter, post the missing persons details on Facebook and Instagram. Make an appeal video on Youtube. There’s so much you can do on these social media platforms
Here are Facebook pages that can assist:
Register the Missing Person with Organizations Offering Resources
If you are searching for a missing child, the Child Welfare Society of Kenya is a great place to start. You can register details of the missing child and they’ll use their resources to investigate. They also have a database of ‘lost’ children under their care.
Another great place to register with is Missing Child Kenya . A community led portal that works with organizations and individuals in the child protection sector and the public to help share information on missing children using various media platforms and increase search efforts at no cost to the affected families.
Red Cross Kenya has a tracing department at all its offices country wide. The tracing team collects relevant data and information regarding the missing person.
Alert Media Houses
Getting media houses to assist can be an uphill task but the end justifies the means. News stations are not likely to cover a missing person story unless it comes from law enforcement. It is much easier if law enforcement puts out a press release indicating a person is in danger. Speak to the police and request if they can issue a press release.
Hire a Private Investigator
There is only so much police in Kenya can do, at times finding the missing person requires additional assistance, both professional and specialized.
Here’s a list of private Investigators in Kenya you can contact.