Missing persons helpline to run TV appeals for unknown bodies

Indira Das-Gupta

The National Missing Persons Helpline has established a unique partnership with a new Sky channel that will help it to solve crimes involving missing people.

The Crime & Investigations Network, launched by Sky in July, approached the charity earlier this year. The channel has now started showing appeals in between programmes. An earlier trial produced leads that may help to identify a woman whose body was found in London.

NMPH already has media partnerships with the Daily Mirror, Metro and the Big Issue. All three publications run its appeals for information about missing people.

However, until now the charity has struggled to publicise the other strand of its work, which is trying to identify the bodies of crime victims.

Ross Miller, head of communications at NMPH, said: "We register unidentified bodies we are told about by the police and coroners.

"We have an ID and reconstruction department that produces post-mortem images. These may be an artist's impression, or images of the body that have been desensitised to make them suitable for the public.

"It's been hard to generate new clues because it's not the sort of thing most media would publicise."

For the appeal used in the trial last month, the department produced an image of a black woman thought to be in her 30s, whose body was found in Wembley, north London, in October 2004.

Miller said: "We currently have about 100 of these cases, which until now we have only been able to publicise on our website.

"Now we are going to have regular time slots that will make a huge difference to our work."

A spokeswoman for The Crime & Investigation Network advised charities to do their research before trying to establish similar partnerships.

She said: "It's not just about exposure; it's about making sure you have got the right match."

NMPH is now in talks with the channel to screen appeals for vulnerable missing people and an advert about what to do when a loved one goes missing.

- The Crime 7 Investigation Network is on Sky 531 from noon to 6am.

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