Fewer children going missing, says OCR boss
Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer
GREIG SMITH, registrar at the Office of the Children's Registry (OCR), has said measures put in place by his organisation have resulted in fewer children being missing.
Smith was speaking at the OCR's back-to-school press conference held on Wednesday at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Andrew.
"It is heartening to know that we recorded a decline of 119 per cent in the number of children reported missing for the period January to June this year, when compared to the corresponding period in 2013," he said.
"However, we are mindful that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to ensure that our children remain in their homes and feel secure being there," Smith added.
He noted that, despite the decrease, his organisation is still working assiduously to improve the rate of recovery of missing children.
"Therefore, we have initiated search-and-rescue training across the island on a phased basis, beginning with the parishes of St Thomas, St Catherine, St Ann, Trelawny, and St James between April and July this year," Smith said.
"The participants included nurses, educators, ministers of religion, guidance counsellors, children's officers, fire personnel, parish-disaster coordinators, civil servants, probation officers, members of the judiciary, as well as representatives from various non-governmental and community-based organisations," he continued.
Smith also said, in a few weeks, they will be printing and distributing 3,000 copies of a search-and-rescue protocol manual developed to provide guidance in finding missing children. These manuals will be disseminated in institutions such as schools, residential childcare facilities, and government ministries.
A total of 984 children were reported missing for the period January to June 2014, 222 boys and 762 girls. Of this number, 614 have since returned, two were found dead, and 368 are still missing.