Mother of missing Isle of Wight teenager calls for ‘Damien’s Law’ to be introduced

Valerie Nettles says young males continue to go under the radar in missing person cases and calls for a number of changes in the way missing persons cases are handled by police.

Damien nettles young and age progressed montage

The mother of missing Isle of Wight teenager, Damien Nettles, is calling on the Prime Minister to introduce ‘Damien’s Law’ – where missing young male cases are treated equally to young girls.

Valerie Nettles has created an online petition explaining that young males continue to go under the radar in missing person cases. She calls for a number of changes to be made to the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Manual of Guidance.

Helping other families
Valerie explains that if Damien’s Law is introduced, it won’t necessarily help in securing any convictions in her son’s case, but it will help other families who find themselves in the same unfortunate situation.

Damiens Law
The petition reads,

Introduce ‘Damien’s Law’ to ensure that when

The ACPO Manual of Guidance on the Management, Recording and Investigation of Missing Persons 2005 made some welcome revisions to the way that missing persons and dealt with by the police and this has continued through subsequent versions of the document. Risk assessment is critical to determining the seriousness of the case and the document sets out a process for doing this. However, it fails to describe the risk factors used and no training programme has been developed to ensure that the police have sufficient knowledge of risk assessment or investigation of missing persons.

Some cases, with a particular concern for young males, continue to go under the radar. It seems that they are assumed to just go on a night out with no particular concerns being registered when they are reported missing. This view is contrary to the findings of the report ‘Going missing on a night out,’ Missing People Research Summary (2011), with 17 people in one sample year and 22 in another being found dead. All were males. This is in breach of the legal obligation set out in the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention on Human Rights to protect life.

I, hereby, petition the Prime Minister Rt Hon Theresa May and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, to acknowledge the distress and anguish suffered by families of missing persons where the disappearance of a family member is not properly responded to resulting a long and painful wait for the case to be resolved, if at all. This applies to cases where there is criminal activity or other forms of harm that cause the person to have disappeared.

  1. To ensure that all cases involving those under 18 years of age are assessed in accordance with the guidelines set out for the activation of Child Rescue Alert and an alert issued in appropriate circumstances. Police forces to be held accountable for failing to issue an alert where it could be appropriately used.
  2. To introduce specialist training for police officers in investigating missing persons, to include training in risk assessing such cases. This training to include awareness of situations such as those outlined above in relation to young men. This would ensure that risk assessment is done by trained police officers using suitable guidance rather than the existing checklist system.
  3. For effective search using specialist search teams and search dogs to secure evidence and increase the probability of finding the missing person alive. This should be lead by the risk assessment and investigation strategy in accordance with the needs of the investigation.
  4. That CCTV footage is obtained as soon as practicable, but in any case within 48-72 hours of the missing person report being filed to ascertain last known sightings.
  5. A more standardised response needs to be implemented across the country with a more structured cold case review process and collation of cases to a central point, with the possibility of a dedicated cold case unit. Currently there are significant variations between police forces, as to how cases are investigated and which ones are recognised as being of greater seriousness. This is particularly true of cases that have not been solved with the families left in limbo, sometimes for many years.
  6. The unfairness of inequality of funding needs to be addressed, whereby some long-term cases get millions of pounds but the majority get nothing. How can it be justified that all cases are not treated equally when all of the families are suffering this dreadful loss?

I call upon you to support this petition to implement ‘Damien’s Law’ to protect vital evidence to ensure other families do not have to endure the same heartbreak as us when a loved one goes missing under suspicious circumstances.

For more detail head over to to see the petition.

Petition for more funding
An online government petition has been created calling extra funds to be released to the police for the Damien Nettles case, Operation Ridgewood.

To sign the petition head over to the official government petition Website. It closes in February 2017.

BBC3 Series: Unsolved: The Boy Who Disappeared
An eight-part documentary series, Unsolved: The Boy Who Disappeared, can also be watched online via BBC3.

Tuesday, 6th December, 2016 8:26am



Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Police, Top story

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