THIS year, 99 per cent of persons reported missing to police have been located within 90 days.
These outcomes can be attributed to the collaborative work by frontline police and those within the Missing Persons Registry.
It is Missing Persons Week until August 8 and we take a look at two cases that remain unsolved. One of those mysteries remains among the nation's most high profile cases.
We ask, where is Ruth Ridley and little William Tyrrell?
Questions remain over what happened to Ruth Ridley nine months after the Port Macquarie resident disappeared.
The cause behind Mrs Ridley's disappearance and the death of her 61-year-old estranged husband Gary Ridley is currently being examined by the Victorian Coroner.
The 2020 Missing Persons Week campaign was launched by NSW Police on August 2 to raise awareness and renew calls for public information into unsolved cases.
NSW Police believe Mrs Ridley travelled from her home in Port Macquarie to Tumbarumba in a dark blue Mitsubishi Pajero, which was towing a caravan on October 18, 2019.
Tumbarumba is on the periphery of the Riverina and South West Slopes region in NSW.
The Pajero was found on Shelley Road, Shelley in Victoria on Tuesday, October 29 with the body of Mrs Ridley's 61-year-old estranged husband inside.
The investigation into the disappearance of Ruth Ridley is being led by Victoria Police, with the assistance of NSW Police.
A Victorian Police spokesperson said Mrs Ridley's disappearance was reported to police on October 30 and extensive searches have been conducted in the Corryong and Walwa areas.
NSW Police will continue to act on any information received. They urge anyone who may be able to assist with the investigation to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
William Tyrrell was just three-years-old when he disappeared from Kendall, south of Port Macquarie in September 2014.
It is one of the nation's most high profile missing person's cases offering a $1 million reward for information leading to the return or recovery of the then toddler. He was last seen wearing his Spiderman suit playing in the yard of his foster grandmother's home.
The inquest into William's disappearance will resume in October, with the NSW Coroner's Court hearing potential witnesses may be withholding information.
The inquiry was adjourned in March because of the coronavirus.
Kendall residents have hope that one day the village will be known for something positive rather than the place where tragedy struck.
National media outlets continue to converge on the village in droves whenever a renewed search in connection with William Tyrrell's disappearance is announced.
In June police conducted further searches in the Herons Creek area under a coronial order as part of the ongoing investigation.
Meanwhile, former NSW lead detective Gary Jubelin was convicted and fined $10,000 for making illegal recordings during his role at the head of Strike Force Rosann during the investigation.
In June Mr Jubelin appealed his conviction and will next face court in mid-August.
Missing Persons Registry launched
The NSW Police Force has launched the Missing Persons Week campaign, coordinated by the newly-formed Missing Persons Registry, to raise awareness of the issues and impacts surrounding missing persons.
Missing Persons Week is an annual national campaign and will continue until Saturday, August 8.
Following a comprehensive review of operations, the NSW Police Force announced the establishment of the Missing Persons Registry (MPR) and the implementation of a number of new systems and procedures, which came into effect in July last year.
The MPR is comprised of seven detectives and four analysts - including those with qualifications and expertise in psychology and data matching - and work to resolve current long-term missing persons cases and provide assistance to frontline police to improve the initial response to missing persons reports.
NSW Police Commissioner Fuller said substantial improvements have been made since the establishment of the Missing Persons Registry, particularly in relation to the resolution of missing persons cases.
"To have a loved one go missing has a devastating impact on family, friends and the wider community, and while police do an outstanding job in providing support for the families, we are also committed to providing answers," Commissioner Fuller said.
"The Missing Persons Registry was created to ensure the NSW Police Force consistently delivers better outcomes for the families of missing persons.
"Since its inception last year, reviews conducted by the Missing Persons Registry have led to 57 long-term missing people being located.
"This year alone, ninety-nine per cent of persons reported missing to police have been located within 90 days, which can be attributed to the collaborative work by frontline police and those within the Missing Persons Registry.
"In addition, officers are using every technological advancement available to continue following lines of inquiry to solve missing persons cases that date back more than 70 years," Commissioner Fuller said.
With every person reported missing, there are family and friends left behind who need answers.Minister for Police and Emergency Services, The Hon. David Elliott MP
Minister for Police and Emergency Services, The Hon. David Elliott MP, said it is not a crime to go missing, but families and friends need to know that police will always attempt to locate their loved ones.
"With every person reported missing, there are family and friends left behind who need answers," Minister Elliott said.
"Most people are found within the first day, but that 24 hours would feel like an eternity to someone who has fears for the safety of a loved one.
"Police will never give up the search and with the support of the Missing Persons Registry will continue to investigate long-term missing person cases thoroughly.
"As this year's Missing Persons Week commences, we are appealing to the community to come forward with any information they may have to help police bring some closure and peace to affected families," Minister Elliott said.
State Crime Commander, Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith, said the state's longest open and ongoing missing persons investigation is the disappearance and suspected murder of eight-year-old Valerie Dawn Eastwell, from Gol Gol in the state's south, on Sunday, August 15, 1945.
"In the past year, the Missing Persons Registry has digitised 57 years of missing persons records - comprised of 769 physical files and data related to 275 unidentified human remains," Assistant Commissioner Smith said.
"Effective and efficient management of missing persons cases - both short and long term - is our priority.
"Formal reviews of missing persons cases reported to police are regularly conducted to provide immediate advice to officers in the field and to ensure every avenue of investigation is thoroughly exhausted.
"Specialist investigators who work in this team are persistent, determined and dedicated to finding answers for families and friends - many of whom they have developed strong relationships with over the years.
"Through the implementation of these new processes, our aim is to provide the most efficient and effective response to all missing persons cases - short-term, long-term and historical - to alleviate the grief and suffering of loved ones left behind," Assistant Commissioner Smith said.
As part of investigations under the Missing Persons Registry, officers work collaboratively with law enforcement and partner agencies across Australia and internationally.
A coordinated inter-agency approach
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) National Missing Persons Coordination Centre (NMPCC) collates missing persons data from across the country and undertakes national research to identify trends and issues associated with missing persons.
The NSW Police Force also works extensively with NSW Health Pathology, the Department of Communities and Justice, and the State Coroner's Office.
NSW Health Pathology's Forensic and Analytical Science Service executive director, Michael Symonds, said world-leading DNA specialists have successfully recovered DNA profiles from human skeletal remains, including those that are more than 100 years old.
"NSW Health Pathology's Forensic and Analytical Science Service provides independent expert analysis to assist police with their investigations, including missing persons cases that require the examination of unidentified human remains," Mr Symonds said.
"This process can be highly complex and challenging and involves a team of NSW Health Pathology experts, including forensic pathologists, anthropologists, dental specialists and DNA specialists.
"A DNA profile can be compared to DNA found on a missing person's personal effects or with that provided by family members. This has helped provide families of missing persons with answers that may not have been possible without these advanced forensic capabilities," Mr Symonds said.
NSW State Coroner Teresa O'Sullivan said the Coroners Court of NSW works collaboratively with multiple agencies to help provide much-needed answers for the family and friends of missing persons.
"Not knowing can be the hardest part for people whose loved ones are missing," Ms O'Sullivan said.
"The Coroners Court of NSW works alongside the NSW Police Force, NSW Health Pathology and other agencies to help put together the pieces of the puzzle and draw conclusions based on the available evidence."
For more information about the Missing Persons Registry, visit www.police.nsw.gov.au/can_you_help_us/missing_persons