National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains (NCMPUR)

Executive summary

As part of a government initiative to address the disturbing number of unsolved cases of murdered and missing Aboriginal women, the RCMP was directed to develop a centre to provide specialised services to all Missing Person (MP) and Unidentified Remains (UR) investigations in Canada. The result is the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains (NCMPUR).

Building on the vision and work done in response to a resolution of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP), the NCMPUR implements a national program providing investigators across Canada with enhanced services including:

  • national data sharing,
  • sophisticated analytical support,
  • liaison and coordination, and
  • development of investigation best practices.

The NCMPUR is a national centre that provides all of these services and manages an infrastructure so that regional centres, where they exist, can be designated as Centres for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains (CMPURS) and use that infrastructure in order to provide some of the same services in local jurisdictions.

The NCMPUR infrastructure includes a database collecting information on missing persons and unidentified remains occurrences across Canada, and on foreign cases where there is a Canadian connection. This information includes personal information that may include sensitive information or information about persons under the age of 18. The information is gathered primarily through an electronic connection with the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC). CPIC an established infrastructure for sharing information between police agencies. Additional information may be entered directly by CMPUR members.

Since the purpose of the NCMPUR program is consistent with the reasons the information was gathered by the investigators and the CMPUR members are providing specialised police services to these investigators, there is no additional privacy risk imposed by the CMPUR.The technical infrastructure, the NCMPUR Policy and the content itself ensure that the information is only used to help locate missing persons and to identify unidentified remains.

Services include publication of selected information through the national website "Canada's Missing". The website solicits 'tips' which may help the primary investigators advance or resolve a case. This is done in the best interest of the subject and is a consistent use of the information.

The primary investigator, working with the CMPUR, supplies and selects the information to be published, and approves the publication, in consultation with the family of the missing person if appropriate. Personal information may be included in a 'tip' received, and the person providing the tip may include their own contact information (completely anonymous tipping is available through Crime Stoppers). The technical infrastructure and the NCMPUR Policy ensure that all personal information is handled appropriately.

The NCMPUR infrastructure also supports the National Missing Persons DNA Program. NCMPUR advises investigators and authorizes submissions , enforcing limitations on collection that are part of the DNA Identification Act. It also ensures that DNA profiles are removed from the National DNA Data Bank in accordance with the provisions of the Act. The NCMPUR Infrastructure does not hold the DNA profiles but works with data about the profiles including identity of donors.

All information on a case is retained until the missing person is found or unidentified remains are identified. Analytical and investigative requirements have been identified that allow for continued retention of case information until 15 years after the case is resolved, at which time personal information is removed and the remainder is kept indefinitely for research. Since information used in the NCMPUR program is owned by the contributing agencies and is mostly a copy of information in their investigative files, access to information requests will be referred to the source agencies.

The NCMPUR business design includes delivery of services by the national centre (at the RCMP) and the regional centres that are run by police agencies or coroner/medical examiner agencies (CMPURs). Access to the technical infrastructure and direct access to the information is available only to cleared and trained personnel.. Although the regional centres may fall within provincial jurisdictions, the NCMPUR overall is managed by the RCMP, and therefore a single Privacy Impact Assessment has been written for the multi-institutional program. The federal Privacy Act governs privacy for the entire program. The Officer in Charge, Canadian Police Centre for Missing and Exploited Children/Behavioural Sciences Branch (CPCMEC/BSB) at the RCMP is accountable for privacy in the NCMPUR program (which is managed under CPCMEC/BSB) The NCMPUR Policy and the MOUs between the RCMP and the regional centres ensure a flow-down of accountability for privacy in accordance with the federal Privacy Act.

The fact that the NCMPUR is a multi-jurisdictional and multi-institutional program, and the nature of the information held, mean that the privacy risk area identification and categorization is 'high', and as such the privacy impact assessment has been thorough. The privacy impact assessment has been an integral part of the NCMPUR program and infrastructure design from the beginning.

Technical features, policy elements, Memorandums of Understanding with CMPURs, training and practices have been developed to mitigate identified risks and handle information in accordance with the Privacy Act and RCMP policy. A risk mitigation plan has been developed to address all residual risks at the appropriate points in time.

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