National Person Finder has been learning about a new role for private investigators in Japan involving proactive support of senior citizens. The shiritsu tantei as private investigators are known in Japan have a burgeoning role in helping families keep track of elderly relatives.
60 investigators have been trained, in conjunction with local government officials and an NGO, to help people who have cognitive problems to be safe in the community. Like National Person Finder, these private detectives will focus on relocating missing persons, but they have a special role in ‘overseeing’ senior citizens living alone. If the family requests assistance, the private investigators may follow they older person for a while to help ensure they are coping with daily life, for example checking that they are able to drive safely and that they can handle modern communications such as bank cards and self-serve shopping check outs.
The majority of the work is seen as preventive rather than investigative, which is a major reversal of how such issues are tackled in the UK where senior citizens, especially those with Alzheimer’s or dementia, may have to be formally reported missing to the police before any attempt is made to ensure their safety. It seems that in Japan, as here, the police can be comparatively slow in responding to missing persons reports, even of vulnerable adults. It’s also been recognised that a ‘missing person finder’ who has already tracked an older person’s behaviour is much more likely to be able to pinpoint where to start the search and who to speak to – key considerations in getting missing persons back to safety promptly. Around the world elderly people are increasingly likely to be living separately to their families and there are currently 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over 1 million by 2025 according to The Alzheimer’s Society
Funds raised to help find missing RAF gunner through private investigator
When Corrie McKeague disappeared on September 24, nobody expected his disappearance to become a missing persons case. He’d been out drinking with friends in Bury St Edmunds and everybody expected he’d turn up with a hangover. But the last sighting of the serviceman was of the 23-year-old walking into a dead-end loading bay at three in the morning – and there has been no sign of him since.
A Just Giving page has raised the funds to hire a private detective and fund some data analysis to “undertake the work the police are not capable or resourcing”. Problems with the police approach include the failure to locate Corrie’s mobile which his family know was conveyed to a local waste dump via a council rubbish lorry but which the police say they don’t have the resources to hunt for. Private investigators have much more scope to do depth researches into such matters and we hope that Corrie will soon be found.