The policeman, the psychic and the journalist  

According to this story in the Independent, The College of Policing have made the suggestion that police detectives should consult with psychics in missing persons cases.

The advice quickly cancels itself out. It should not “become a distraction to the overall investigation and search strategy unless it can be verified,” and “accredited successes” should be taken into account.

Eventually my bullshit detector was triggered, and I went to look at the website of the College of Policing.

There’s just one paragraph on the topic in a long document. And this is it.

” Psychics

High-profile missing person investigations nearly always attract the interest of psychics and others, such as witches and clairvoyants, stating that they possess extrasensory perception. Any information received from psychics should be evaluated in the context of the case, and should never become a distraction to the overall investigation and search strategy unless it can be verified. These contacts usually come from well-intentioned people, but the motive of the individual should always be ascertained, especially where financial gain is included. The person’s methods should be asked for, including the circumstances in which they received the information and any accredited successes.”

In context, that seems much more reasonable, doesn’t it? Fundamentally it’s saying don’t be distracted by information from psychics. But the part about the motive for getting involved in the case, and the potential for financial gain and the circumstances they receieved the information – I can very easily imagine that these are questions the police should follow up.

I’m interested in the idea of accredited successes. Have there ever been any genuine cases of psychics finding missing people?

I’m afraid I even get frustrated with psychic phenomena in mystery and crime fiction, although I will make the exception for Phil Rickman’s Merrily Watkins novels, which are so thoroughly enjoyable I don’t mind the intrusion of the supernatural.   I would love to read a good crime novel about a fraudulent psychic though. Any recommendations welcome.  Or perhaps I will one day write one myself.


Sources –

Independent – Advice from College of Policing concerning missing persons cases.

The College of Policing Consultation