At the instigation Dr. Linzi Wilson-Wilde from ANZPAA/NIFS, Dr. Russell Lain and myself participated in a meeting of Missing Person heads from the various state/territory jurisdictions and AFP. Dr. Denice Higgins, incoming chair of the Odontology Scientific Working Group under the Medical Sciences Specialist Advisory Group, was unable to attend so Drs Lain and Middleton to attend. This was primarily to discuss expectations and procedures in relation to the implementation of the National Missing Persons data base presently anticipated for July 2015. This is the extension of the transfer of management of Plass DVI Sys program from AFP to CRIMTRAC, and the increasing usage of this program for ‘Missing Persons’ management.
The meeting was a very profitable meeting for both the police heads and the science reps – odontology, biology/DNA and anthropology.
It was very evident that the abilities of the national data base to store and sort information were not clear to these section heads. The understanding of what information needs collection, after what time interval and how it was to be collected was inconsistent across the various jurisdictions. What was surprising to us was the lack of understanding of the role of odontology in the potential identification of long term missing persons, and the requirements of jurisdictions when a person is regarded as a long term missing person.
The various heads were unanimous in the need to establish nationally an agreement as to what information is to be collected and when this collection should commence in relation to the reporting of a person missing.
This Society, representing one of the primary identifiers, needs to promote through our police and DVI contacts just what is required by the police missing persons sections to ensure timely, adequate and complete collection, collation and storage of dental information/evidence.
AuSFO needs to develop/expand a document explaining the need, process, requirements for the documentation of dental information (in relation to long term missing persons), and the uses of such data.
Dr. Alain Middleton