Kate McCann has claimed that burglary victims are treated better than
the families of missing children.
McCann, whose daughter Madeleine went missing from her family's holiday
flat in the Algarve shortly before her fourth birthday, joined other
mothers of missing children as she talked about the lack of emotional
support available to families.
She said that nothing protects the families of missing people left
Calling for the Government to show its support, Mrs McCann said there
was ''currently no legislation to protect missing people and their
families left behind''.
Speaking outside the Commons while holding up a picture of Madeleine,
Mrs McCann said: "If your house is burgled, you are automatically
offered victim support with emotional, practical and legal assistance.
"If your child goes missing, you may get nothing.
"This parliamentary inquiry has the potential to change that."
She went on: "When someone you love goes missing, you are left with
unimaginable, unending heartbreak, confusion, guilt and worry.
"In addition to the reassurance that everything possible is being done
to find their missing loved one, families need support. And they should
be spared the additional pain of financial and legal bureaucracy."
Mrs McCann, 43, issued her appeal to the Government as Scotland Yard
continues its review of the investigation into her daughter's
disappearance in Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007.
Last month, Mrs McCann, from Rothley, Leicestershire, published a
highly-personal book about Madeleine's disappearance in a bid to revive
efforts to find her daughter.
The official Portuguese inquiry into the disappearance was formally
shelved in July 2008, although private detectives employed by the
McCanns have continued the search.
Mrs McCann was joined by Sarah Godwin - whose son, Quentin, was 18 when
he went missing in New Zealand while on his way to an after-school job
on May 20, 1992 - and Nicki Durbin, whose son, Luke, 19, went missing
four years ago.
The three mothers, each holding images of their missing loved ones,
faced the press ahead of the first session of the inquiry.
Martin Houghton-Brown, chief executive of Missing People, said: "From
dealing with finances, insurance policies, bank accounts and mortgages
through to having a missing person declared presumed dead, families left
behind often struggle to deal with institutions that have no system for
their clients going missing.
"This inquiry is a landmark opportunity for parliamentarians to ensure
that families are able to access the full range of support that they so
Mrs McCann told the MPs she did not think it should be left to "grieving
parents" to search for their child.
"I don't think this should be the role of grieving parents," she said.
Mrs McCann added that this was compounded by a "lack of communication
Calling for a single point of contact between the families of missing
people and the police, Mrs McCann said: "To be left in the dark when
your child is missing and at risk is unbearable."
Human beings are not equipped to deal with such ordeals and more support
is crucial if "families are to survive".
She went on: "Many people have been worn down by this process because
it's absolutely relentless and exhausting."
But she added that now Scotland Yard was involved, "I feel the chances
of her being found are improving".
Mrs McCann said that, despite being medically trained, she simply "could
not function" when Madeleine went missing.
"It was the first time in my life when I felt out of control," she told
Counselling had helped "to talk, to vocalise our fears and to challenge
our fears", she said.
Ms Durbin also spoke of her "terror" at hearing about the discovery of a
decapitated body on the local news, fearing it was her son, but not
having anyone to call to find out more.
A point of contact with the police was crucial, she said.
Her son went missing after a night out in Ipswich in 1996, she told MPs.