The Toronto Police Service (TPS) has made two significant changes to the public information released in relation to missing persons in an effort to protect their privacy.
From today, TPS news releases and social media posts for missing persons will no longer routinely include the surname and gender of the individual.
The goal of these changes, which were made in consultation with the Homicide and Missing Persons Unit and the Missing and Missed Implementation Team (MMIT), is to better protect the missing person’s privacy in the future, while still disseminating information that is necessary and effective in locating them, including the individual’s image.
MMIT – Community Representative Nicole Corrado advocated for the amendments.
“When full names are used in Missing bulletins, the Missing Person may be found, but their privacy remains missing,” she said. “No one wants to be defined by their worst day. By posting only the first name, Missing Persons can still be found, but their full name is not forever associated with the event.”
This change will help protect the privacy of individuals while also maintaining the integrity of missing persons investigations. When releasing information to the public, the Service relies on the sharing of images in the community to assist in successfully locating missing people.
However the TPS says each situation will be evaluated on an individual basis by the investigator in consultation with the Homicide and Missing Persons Unit and with support from the Corporate Communications Unit. While it endeavours to routinely discontinue using the above noted identifiers, there may be circumstances in which this information could assist in locating the missing person, for instance, if a photograph of the individual is not available.