It’s four years since Luke Durbin went missing as a 19-year-old lad on a night out with friends in Ipswich. He had been missing a year when I first wrote about his disappearance and the torment of his broken hearted mother Nicki who believes he is dead.
Tomorrow is the anniversary of Luke’s mysterious disappearance and his mother still desperately wants to discover the truth. What mother wouldn’t? And I cannot begin to imagine the agonising grief she must live with daily, just like other families with children and loved ones who are inexplicably missing. Of course they never give up trying to discover new leads which will bring an end to their nightmare existence.
Nicki fears the worst and tells the East Anglian Daily Times that police should be investigating a murder inquiry:
‘“I never in my wildest nightmares imagined that four years on I would know no more today than I did when I first called police. It’s impossible to put into words the desperate life you lead living with a missing child. Your imagination becomes your worst enemy.
“In the first couple of weeks of Luke’s disappearance I feel that grave mistakes were made in the investigation. Assumptions were made about my child and time was lost. That window was crucial. For over three and a half years I have believed that Luke is no longer alive and that something sinister happened. I am 99% sure he is dead. I have asked Suffolk police to turn Luke’s case into a murder inquiry but they have refused – saying it is detrimental to his case as a missing person and that there is no murder scene or suspect.
“I will have no closure until Luke is either found alive or his remains are discovered. I will not stop fighting to find answers unless I physically and emotionality can’t do it any more. There has to be at least one person out there who knows what happened. I really hope their conscience gets the better of them. I beg anyone with information to come forward.”
I’m not sure what happened to the Early Day Motion proposed by Tory MP Ann Winterton in 2008 urging the Government to provide support for families of missing people. Ann Winterton was proposing that a Missing Persons’ Bill should be introduced which would provide counselling for families, as well as helping them achieve widespread publicity. I hope our next government will be sympathetic to their unique plight and support them.
The Missing People charity estimates 210,000 people are reported missing each year, it desperately needs more funding to help support families. Please read this link for some heartbreaking stories about missing people whose families I met on a march in London two years ago to raise publicity.
*At long lost a child abduction alert system will be introduced throughout Europe on May 25, similar to Amber Alert system which is successfully used in America when children go missing and are abducted. I hope all parts of the UK will be fully prepared for this too. And credit should go to Kate and Gerry McCann who have campaigned tirelessly for such a system to be introduced since their daughter Madeline disappeared in Portugal in May 2007.
The way it is planned to work is that regional and national television and radio stations will broadcast messages, in some cases interrupting scheduled programmes. It is hoped to eventually use internet and text messaging as well as motorway information signs. The system is being co-ordinated by the National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA) and any national abduction investigation will be led by Greater Manchester Police. I would like to see signs at ports, airports and railway stations too.
The alert system is being launched on May 25 to mark International Missing Children’s Day and is the result of funding from the European Commission. Some countries, including Portugal, Spain and the Czech Republic, have already linked with the pan-European network.
Police say that by establishing a powerful partnership between the police, media and the public, Child Rescue Alert allows information about the child and the suspect to be shared in just a few hours of a disappearance when the criteria for such an alert are met. These are often the vital hours which could literally mean the difference between life and death. This alert system is long overdue and I’m sure it will prove vital in the safe rescue of abducted children.
In memory of those who are still missing.