Multitude of missing persons files no cause for alarm: West Shore RCMP

Const. Meighan Massey says the majority are safely resolved within a day or two

(Black Press Media file photo) RCMP

There were 323 missing person files last year on the West Shore alone.

That’s just less than one a day, enough to make anyone who monitors police news to imagine something terrible is happening. Is there a serial kidnapper? Are kids being abducted or lured into danger?

We asked the West Shore RCMP to help break down the numbers to get some clarity on what 323 missing persons really looks like.

The first thing that comes up is there are a lot of repeat names. Nineteen youth were reported as missing more than once in the year — one youth was “missing” 50 times, that’s almost once a week. The five youth most frequently reported missing made up 89 of the alerts.

ALSO READ: Routine West Shore police calls net drugs, weapons, stolen merchandise

Const. Meighan Massey said a lot of them live in group homes with a curfew. Say they’re at a friend’s house and don’t get home on time – it’s an automatic missing person report. Group homes generate a large number of the alerts, she said.

The majority of missing person files on the West Shore are safely resolved within 24 to 48 hours, Massey said. “Most youth missing over that time period have some kind of contact with someone – just not police or parents.”

The point is that usually when someone is missing, it’s not like they’ve disappeared into thin air.

Though Massey understands the fear people can have when they see several missing persons alerts pop up on their social media feeds, seemingly all at once. It’s not hard to jump to the worst possibility that a malicious kidnapper is roaming around.

And that has happened on the West Shore, so that memory is still a part of this community, she said.

Still, of all the missing person files generated in 2020, only one ended in tragedy, a suspected suicide. Six files are old cases from between 1974 and 2020. All the other 316 were safely resolved.

READ MORE: West Shore RCMP seeks help finding man missing from Langford since Friday

For privacy reasons, when a missing person is safely located their personal information is removed from the website and a new release with limited details confirms they have been found. The Gazette will update any article that’s been published with the result, like this story: UPDATE: Missing 13-year-old Langford girl found safe. But people don’t always see the updates, which can lead to a belief that there are dozens of missing people still in danger. Most of the time, that isn’t the case.

Standards for missing person investigations recently strengthened

No matter how many times a person is reported missing, there’s a threshold the RCMP are required to meet.

The B.C. Provincial Policing Standards for Missing Person Investigations were adopted between 2016 and 2018, based on recommendations from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry.

The goal is to overcome inherent bias and make sure that every file is assessed with the same level of importance.

They’ve attempted to reduce barriers for reporting someone as missing and require a quick response from officers, who are expected to treat every case as high risk until an assessment is done. Each detachment has a missing person files coordinator to make sure nothing gets missed, and there’s a lot of extra supervision on these cases.


Do you have a story tip? Email: zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

missing personWest ShoreWestshore RCMP

Just Posted

Victoria Regional Transit System routes 7 UVic/Downtown, 21 Interurban/Downtown and 53 Colwood/Langford will undergo changes as of June 28. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria school routes scaled down for summer by BC Transit

Service changes take effect June 28, enhanced service returns this fall and winter

Google Maps shows significant traffic backups after a crash reported shortly before noon on Father’s Day, June 20. (Google Maps)
Saanich crash closes lane of McKenzie Avenue

Police say there were injuries, traffic is impacted

Hot rods, rad rods, muscle and sports cars spanning the decades made their way in a parade from North Saanich to Victoria on June 19. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Classic cars cruise Saanich Peninsula in advance of Father’s Day

Retirement home residents from North Saanich to Victoria treated to a spectacle of hot rides

Al Kohut, owner of the new photographers GALLERY, checks out Looking Back by David Bradt. The photo printed on canvas is among 50 images featured in the Birds on the Wild Side exhibition showing until July 3. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Photo gallery in Sidney plucks out top bird photos

Birds on the Wild Side show running at the new photographers GALLERY until July 3

Andrea Lewis (left), board member of the Shoreline Medical Society, receives a $3,000 cheque from Andrew Hansen, owner of Boondocks Bar and Grill. They are joined by Elizabeth Rhoades, executive director Shawna Walker, as well as board members Richard Flader and Andrew Tidman. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney bar owner helps doctor recruitment for Saanich Peninsula clinics

Boondocks Bar and Grill raised $3,000 in May for Shoreline Medical Society

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

Most Read