In a recent visit to the Achaia Police Directorate for our project, our partners at p-consulting.gr had the privilege of interviewing Police Chief Ioannis Athanasopoulos. Known for his dedication to duty and commitment to protecting the citizens of Patras, Chief Athanasopoulos shed light on the procedures and actions taken by the Greek Police when a missing person is reported. This insightful interview offers valuable information that provides a glimpse into the meticulous efforts undertaken by the Greek Police in handling missing persons cases.
1. Declaring a Missing Person:
When a person goes missing, the declaration is typically made by a family member. However, in the absence of immediate family, a friend or distant relative can also make the declaration. Chief Athanasopoulos explained that immediate action is taken in cases involving minors or individuals at risk of life, whereas the investigation usually begins 24 hours after the disappearance.
2. Prioritizing Search Efforts:
The Greek Police prioritize the search for missing persons based on age and vulnerability. Underage children receive the highest priority, followed by spouses, women, and potential crime victims. The actions taken by the police depend on whether a crime has been committed, and in cases of voluntary departures by adults, the police cannot intervene if the person chooses to leave voluntarily.
3. Leveraging Technology and Collaborations:
Technology plays a crucial role in missing persons investigations, with the Greek Police utilizing resources such as mobile phone companies to obtain location information. Chief Athanasopoulos highlighted the importance of collaboration with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in search efforts, which requires a prosecutor’s order. The primary collaboration established by law is between private individuals and the police. Information about missing individuals is entered into a comprehensive database, categorized based on various factors, and shared with all departments within the Hellenic Police to facilitate search efforts.
4. Confirming Location and Investigation Continuity:
Confirmation of a person’s location can be obtained through witness testimonies or electronic means, with electronic data considered more reliable. Understanding the cause of a disappearance helps focus the investigation on relevant places or individuals. Chief Athanasopoulos emphasized that investigations continue as long as there is information and leads, with no predetermined timeline for closure.
5. Raising Awareness and Ensuring Well-being:
Various organizations, including NGOs and research entities, play a significant role in raising awareness about missing persons in Greece. Swift searches for electronic trails are particularly effective in locating missing persons, especially minors, as delays are avoided. Furthermore, the legal framework in Greece mandates the involvement of specialized child psychologists or psychiatrists in investigations and searches for missing minors to ensure their well-being and cooperation.
Our sincere gratitude goes to Police Chief Ioannis Athanasopoulos and the dedicated staff at the Achaia Police Directorate for their openness in sharing their insights and expertise. This interview has provided valuable knowledge about the meticulous procedures and dedicated efforts undertaken by the Greek Police to locate missing persons. By leveraging technology, collaborations, and prioritizing search efforts, the Greek Police are enhancing their ability to bring loved ones back to their families and ensure the safety of the community.