If you have any information please call Hampshire Police on 101 quoting 'Operation Ridgewood'

Damien’s Law

After over 20yrs of campaigning for Damien, Mrs Nettles felt compelled to do something that was going to be helpful to the missing issue in general.

Valerie Nettles wants a lasting legacy to Damien in the most meaningful way. Damien’s Law calls for new guidance to ensure more missing people are found alive.

Introduce new guidance to ensure that more missing people are found

Our aim is to improve existing guidelines and encourage cohesive collaborative & communication between all parties to preserve the life of the missing person.

Mistakes in the early days of a missing person's investigation impact the entire case. Too many long-term missing persons cases remain unsolved and over time become non-operational, compounding the agony of families suffering ambiguous loss. Such mishandling will result in more complaints being filed with Police Standards Departments (PSD) and Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Young men especially continue to go under the radar and are classed as ‘lads being lads’. Families must be taken more seriously and if they tell police it is out of character, this should be acted upon and taken into consideration. Gathering evidence remains erratic between forces and invaluable time is being lost to secure CCTV and critical evidence.

We need to make a joint effort to ensure no stone is unturned and every piece of the puzzle is explored. Education about the dangers of drinking & drug use, especially near water is imperative. Greater awareness of social media safety for families, digital footprint and responsible use of appeals for the wider public also needs addressing.

I, hereby, petition the Prime Minister, RT Hon Boris Johnson MP and Home Secretary, Rt Hon Priti Patel MP to acknowledge the distress and anguish suffered by families and the wider community when someone disappears. I ask that the following recommendations to be formally known as ‘Missing Persons Support bill’ to be adopted:

  1. Consider funding for an independent Centre of Excellence for Missing Persons (COEMP) to unite professionals in assessment, specialist training, searches, investigation, forensics, and horizon scanning for new developments – with a dedicated unit for long-term missing cases. This would ensure that all ‘missing cases’ get equal attention and adequate/fair funding. Ongoing family support is needed for cold cases because regardless of status they are still grieving.
  2. Risks associated with missing after a night out (particularly young males) should be acknowledged by the police and other professionals. The response to these people should be reviewed, too many young males are found drowned. Nationwide campaigns must be implemented to encourage them to seek help with depression and mental health issues as suicide rates are at an all-time high.
  3. The concerns of families should be taken more seriously when a person is reported missing. A family member’s assertion that a missing episode is out of character should always be taken seriously and the risk assessment should be upgraded accordingly.
  4. Specialist training for police officers investigating missing persons, including training on risk assessment, should be updated to include an improved understanding of working with families reporting the missing person. They need to understand the psychological and emotional damage suffered by those left behind suffering from PTSD. Family live a life sentence of despair and grief, with no knowledge as to why is devastating but impossible to grieve.
  5. Some long-term missing person investigations receive significant police resources whereas others receive much less. All families should have the guarantee everything possible is being done. Greater transparency is needed about how & why police allocate resources to improve understanding about what resource is likely to be devoted to their missing loved one’s investigation.
  6. Unidentified human remains (complete & partial) must be regularly crosschecked with remains found across the UK and Europe. This must be done in a timely manner, keeping apace with advances in the DNA techniques/processes on par with the highly acclaimed services in Ireland.
  7. All school children should be taught about danger signs they need to be aware of in today’s climate of parental/stranger abduction and especially in regard to County Lines and the “Clever Never Goes” project.

My situation is not unique. I am a Community Ambassador for Missing People retaining a close unity with other families of long-term missing people. The charity is all we have and the job is massive and the funds are short for one organisation to be able to sustain the needs of the magnitude of the issue.

Please read more about Damien’s story and my journey into this world of the missing by visiting our website.

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/missingpersonssupport

Twitter: @MisPersSupport #MissingPersonsSupport #DamiensLaw

Sign the petition

Petition Update

We have recently published an update to the petition encouraging our supporters to write to their own local MP to raise more awareness.

Write to your MP

We have received a response from the Home Office Safeguarding Unit, wishing us good luck with our campaign. They have assured us that improving missing persons guidelines is of utmost importance to them.

Missing People charity are now supporting Damien’s Law through their media team. In recent weeks, we have also gained support from professional criminologists, forensic psychologists and TV personalities.

We are delighted to also have Charlie Hedges MBE onboard, who is acknowledged as one of the UK’s acclaimed experts on missing persons, particularly children and those who are abducted and trafficked. We fully support his vision of a Centre of Expertise to be applied to practice, that will be a focal point for long term missing with delivery of specialised training.

If you feel strongly that our manifesto would make an improvement, please feel free to write to your own MP.

Write to your MP

Thank you again for your support, it means a lot.

Kind regards


Suggested template for your letter:

I am one of over 3,000 people who have signed the petition on change.org for Damien’s Law.

The campaign has been established by Valerie Nettles, whose 16yr old son Damien went missing in Cowes, Isle of Wight 21yrs ago. He is presumed murdered, but his body has never been found. Hampshire Constabulary has mishandled the case from the start with a catalogue of over 30 issues raised in a complaint to PSD last year. IPCC referred the complaint back to Hampshire Constabulary for Local Investigation. As their conclusion was unsatisfactory, an appeal is currently being processed by the IPCC.

[insert your own paragraph here if you wish to elaborate why you signed this petition]

Mrs Nettles friend/supporter has had a response from Home Office Safeguarding Unit and her local MP, Michelle Donelan for Chippenham. She also has the support of Missing People charity, Charlie Hedges MBE and many highly acclaimed professionals.

I would be grateful if you can raise my concerns and keep me updated please. I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest possible convenience.

Our supporters

Charlie Hedges MBE

We fully support Charlie Hedges MBE ambition of a Centre of Expertise to be realised.

We are delighted to have the support of Charlie Hedges MBE, one of the UK’s acclaimed experts on missing persons, particularly children and those who are abducted and trafficked. Please visit Charlie’s website for full details of his dedicated work to missing persons.

Missing People

The Missing People charity is the only registered UK charity for missing persons. They run a 24/7 helpline with dedicated staff

Professor David Wilson

Emeritus Professor of Criminology Birmingham City University; Chair Friends of Grendon; Vice President New Bridge. Author and TV presenter

Professor Elizabeth Yardley

Professor of Criminoloogy. Creator & host of CrimeBitesPod. Expertise in homicide, networked media in homicide & websleuthing

David Swindle

Multilingual Crime Consultant, Independent Reviewer, Expert Criminal Investigator and TV Presenter

Kerry Daynes

Consultant & Forensic Psychologist, Speaker, Author, TV & Media Export; The Profiler on Faking It

Saturday Share

We run a Saturday Share project to raise awareness of long-term missing people who may not necessarily have a suitable platform for their missing loved one. We do a short write-up, appeal banner & photo collages and share media and video links throughout the 24hr period. We liaise closely with the family to ensure they are happy with what will be published. This is providing a huge success and in one case a possible breakthrough has been made.

If you have a missing family member and would like us to feature them, please visit Missing Persons Support Facebook Group Newsfeed and message an Admin to arrange a slot. We are happy to fit you in to coincide with birthdays or anniversaries as near to the date of your choice.

Missing Persons Support Facebook Group Newsfeed

Follow us on Twitter @MisPersSupport to retweet our regular appeals for missing children and young adults.

Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command (CEOP)

CEOP works to keep children safe from sexual abuse and sexual grooming online