Police will now be able to access more information that may help solve missing persons cases.
The Missing Persons Act, proclaimed today, April 22, will allow police to apply to court to get personal information, including text messages, telephone records, GPS, bank records, health records and computer history, to help during missing person investigations.
“The act will be a valuable tool to assist police in investigations of missing persons,” said David MacNeil, president of the Nova Scotia Association of Chiefs of Police. “The ability to obtain this information will enable investigators to locate missing persons in a timelier manner, ensuring their safety and the peace of mind of family members.”
It is a similar process to obtaining a search warrant. Having a court approve the orders is a check-and-balance to protect privacy rights.
“Access to this information will be extremely helpful, and in some cases crucial, to police agencies when solving missing person cases,” said Justice Minister Lena Metlege Diab.
Any information received by police will remain confidential and cannot be forwarded, including to a spouse or family member.
As the legislation includes health records, amendments will be made to the Personal Health Information Regulations and the Justice of the Peace Regulations. These amendments will come into force at the same time as the Missing Persons Act.
Nova Scotia police agencies receive more than 1,000 missing person cases each year. Before the act, police did not have legal authority to get the information from service providers.