n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Victim support by the South African Police Service to the parents / guardians of missing children

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According to the South African Police Bureau for Missing Persons on average, between 1 400 and 1 700 children under the age of 18 go missing every year in South Africa. Although the success rate in finding these children is high at an average of about 88 percent, the physical and emotional impact on parents and families who have to deal with the issue of a missing child is devastating. The police service is usually the first institution dealing with the parents and relatives of a missing child. As the first point of contact with the criminal justice system, the police play an important role in shaping the victim's experience.

The objective of this study was to reveal the victim support that the South African Police Service is rendering to the parents/guardians of missing children. The research revealed various problems in the police dealing with cases of missing children. It became evident that the police in some incidents do not regard a missing child as serious. It was clearly illustrated by the fact that 40 percent of the respondents experienced difficulties to convince the police to register their cases. To a great extent the police seriously neglect to provide basic information to the respondents such as information on the case reference number, the details of a contact person, information on the procedures that they are going to follow and information on the progress of the case.
The right to information is some of the basic rights of any victim and is clearly stated in the United Nations Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power. The research portrayed the respondent's expectations and suggestions with regard to victim support and recommendations were made to address their needs.


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