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Britain fancies psychic help to solve missing persons' cases

world Updated: Sep 01, 2015 01:13 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
UK police

Police in Britain have been asked not to dismiss tip-offs from psychics and clairvoyants while investigating missing persons’ cases, drawing sharp reactions from Indian-origin rationalists, who termed the move as “shameful”.

According to draft guidelines mentioned in a consultation document by the country’s College of Policing, information from such sources should be evaluated by investigating officers, especially in cases involving high-profile figures.

Birmingham-based Asian Rationalist Society of Britain (ASRB) dismissed the guidelines as illogical. Police should investigate cases based on facts and “not fiction or illusion”, ASRB general secretary Sachdev Virdee told HT on Monday. “If such people have the powers they claim to have, why have policing at all? It is sad and shameful that such guidelines have been issued. It is also self-contradictory, since the police have acted against ‘tantriks’ and ‘babas’ in the past,” he said.

Virdee said the ASRB, which has in the past highlighted cases of ‘babas’ exploiting gullible members of the Indian/Asian community, will discuss the guidelines with other like-minded campaign groups.

According to the consultation paper, “High-profile missing person investigations nearly always attract the interest of psychics and others, such as witches and clairvoyants, stating that they possess extrasensory perception.”

“Any information received from psychics should be evaluated in the context of the case, and should never become a distraction from the overall investigation and search strategy unless it can be verified… Our guidance says that all information received in the course of a missing person investigation should be recorded and assessed to see whether it can yield any valid lines of inquiry, including information that comes from people identifying themselves as psychic.”

“The person's methods should be asked for, including the circumstances in which they received the information and any accredited successes,” the document adds. It clarifies that “accredited success” means previous cases where such sources have provided information to the police that turned out to be correct.

Missing People, a charity organisation, urged caution on enlisting the help of such mediums.

“As a non-judgemental organisation, we respect the fact that some families of missing people will want to try every avenue in order to find a loved one. Research based on interviews with the families of missing people conducted by the charity shows that no interviewees reported significant findings or comfort from the experience of consulting psychics of mediums.”