How Claudias Law will help the families of missing people

Claudia’s Law – officially called the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017 – has come into force today. It is named after Claudia Lawrence, and is designed to help the loved ones of missing people to deal with the administrative side of their loved one’s disappearance. Who is Claudia Lawrence?Claudia Lawrence was 35 when she was reported missing after not turning up for work as a cook at York University in 2009. Six weeks after she went missing, the police classified her disappearance as a suspected murder investigation, although no proof that she died has ever been found. Ten years on, the police are still not sure what happened to her, but believe that the public are holding back information which could provide an answer. There are several theories about what happened. Some think she might have let someone into her home the night before colleagues realised she was missing, given CCTV footage of a man walking along the alley behind her house. Others believe she may have been abducted on her way to work, as what appeared to be breakfast dishes were found in the kitchen of her house. Peter Lawrence holding a photo of Claudia  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. What does Claudia’s Law do?Claudia’s Law will come into effect in England and Wales. Campaigning efforts were led by her father Peter. It creates a new legal position of “guardian of the affairs of a missing person”, for anyone missing 90 days or more. This guardian is tasked with acting in the best interests of the absent person. Before now, there was no legal way for the financial affairs of a missing person to be dealt with by someone else if they had not been declared dead. The guardian will be able to act on their behalf, suspending direct debits for mobile phones, making mortgage payments and so on. It is more far-reaching than The Presumption of Death Act 2013, which let families take over the financial affairs of a missing person, but only if they are declared dead. Campaigners say the change will help to ease pressure on families by reducing financial and administrative stress. Peter Lawrence has said the law will reduce the “burden” on relatives . He said: “I am delighted that Claudia’s Law is coming into force.“This will make such a difference to the lives of the hundreds of families who have been waiting so long for it, enabling them to deal with their missing loved one’s financial and property affairs in the same way as everyone else is able to on a daily basis.“One less burden at a time when families are at their emotional lowest ebb will help enormously.”His campaigning efforts were backed by the charity Missing People. Susannah Drury, the charity’s director of policy and research, called the law a “triumph”.  Peter Lawrence holding a photo of Claudia Credit: Danny Lawson/PA read more