Missing girl Katrice Lee’s mother calls for better support

Sharon Lee (right) and her daughter Natasha
Sharon Lee (right) and her daughter Natasha
Portsmouth & Southsea railway station by Andy Cooper

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A MOTHER whose daughter went missing more than 30 years ago will tell experts the UK needs a better system to help families of people who go missing abroad.

Sharon Lee, of Gosport, will today speak about problems she faced after losing her daughter Katrice, who was aged two when she went missing in Paderborn, West Germany, in 1981.

Mrs Lee wants a new agency or more funding for existing groups in the UK to help families whose relatives go missing abroad.

She will speak at a three-day international conference at the University of Portsmouth.

She said: ‘I’d like things to be improved for families, mainly for families who have someone who goes missing abroad.

‘It’s OK having the media hype for the first couple of weeks that they go missing, but then that family’s left. There is no overriding authority in the UK that will take ownership of it.

‘I would like to see a new body set up or perhaps funding given to an organisation like Missing People that has the expertise of dealing with families.

‘It’s itty-bitty and you’re running around knocking on doors all the time.’

It comes as the Metropolitan Police has taken on the investigation into Madeleine McCann, who vanished in Portugal in 2007.

Mrs Lee praised Missing People, which is running the day with the university, the Serious Crimes Unit’s UK Missing Persons Bureau and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).

But she said legal jurisdiction, language barriers, travel costs and limited consulate resources are all problems families face.

She said: ‘I was lucky – although I have an ongoing battle with the Royal Military Police, they have in effect been my greatest tool. I can go through them; if I didn’t, I would have to deal with the German authorities myself.’

Dr Karen Greene from the university said the conference will identify areas for more work.