Government should fund body to find the vanished

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Should the unthinkable happen and a member of your family vanishes while you are abroad, to whom do you turn?

If that nightmare happened in this country, you could expect the police, the media and the community to take an active interest in your case for a long time.

But what if you are Sharon Lee and her family?

Her daughter Katrice disappeared more than 30 years ago in Germany. She was just two.

That’s three decades of unbearable torture for Sharon, which somehow she has had to come to terms with.

But out of her dreadful predicament there might just come something positive.

For today Sharon, from Gosport, will address a conference at the University of Portsmouth devoted entirely to missing people.

She is an ideal ‘expert’, unfortunately.

For it was 1981 when she last saw her toddler daughter.

What she was due to tell that gathering is that an agency should be set up in the UK specifically to help families whose relatives – children and adults – disappear on foreign soil.

We understand her plea and we support her call. And perhaps the government is moving, albeit slowly, in the right direction.

At the end of last week there was news that the Home Office had agreed to fund a full-scale Scotland Yard investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

The police have been reviewing the evidence for two years after David Cameron personally intervened in the high-profile case.

Now home secretary Theresa May has approved a move to fund the cost of a proper investigation as detectives pursue fresh leads.

Madeleine disappeared in Portugal more than six years ago, shortly before her fourth birthday.

Sharon has nothing but praise for the organisation called Missing People, but as she says in our article today: ‘You can go to them and they will give you help and support, but they are just one organisation. There is no overriding authority in the UK that will take ownership of it.’

The time has come to put right that wrong.