THE family of missing chef Claudia Lawrence has welcomed new Government plans to give people extra help when a loved one disappears.
Justice Minister Helen Grant has announced proposals to create a new power of “guardianship” for relatives of missing people.
It would allow families to deal with the legal and financial issues that arise in the initial months when someone vanishes.
The announcement follows the recent creation of new laws which, from April next year, will enable bereaved families to deal with the affairs of someone who is missing and presumed dead.
Claudia Lawrence, who was born in Darlington and raised in Malton was a chef at York University, disappeared in 2009 aged 35 and her case is being treated as one of suspected murder.
Her father Peter Lawrence has campaigned tirelessly for the rights of missing people and his friend and spokesman Martin Dales said they were pleased the Government was acting in support of guardianship.
“It is good news that the affairs of the missing person will be able to be looked after whilst they are missing,” he said.
“It is a stressful enough time for the families left behind to have to deal with without the hassle of financial and legal affairs that at the moment cannot be dealt with by anyone except the missing person themselves.”
Mrs Grant said: ““We want to do everything we can to help families of missing people to deal with the administrative problems that can make life even more trying at such a difficult time.
“That is why we want to put measures in place so they can make alternative arrangements for the legal and financial affairs of their missing loved one.
“By having guardianship powers in place in those early months we can reduce some of the burdens when people’s lives are turned upside down.
“I want to do all that we can to support those left behind.”
Under current law families of missing people have no way to make alternative arrangements until their loved one can be presumed dead – which can be years after they went missing.